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Metlife and CFS latest to join Options

Metlife and Co-operative Financial Services are the latest product providers to sign up to the Association of British Insurers’ annuity transfer initiative.

The firms join the 16 pension and annuity providers already signed up to Options, 14 of which have gone live with the system.

Scottish Widows and Zurich are the only insurers that have signed up but not gone live despite the fact that Options launched last December.

Zurich says it expects to be using the system by the third quarter but Widows will not set a date, admitting that implementing the initiative is not a priority for the firm.

Options recorded an average transfer time of eight calendar days for the first quarter of the year compared with 35 days before the initiative.

Metlife says that it expects to be using Options by the third quarter.

Managing director UK Dominic Grinstead says: “We have recently signed up to the initiative which we believe is really positive. We are working on implementing the system at the moment and we hope to go live by the third quarter.”

ABI spokesman Jon French says: “It is good news that these providers have signed up to Options and we hope that more will follow.”


Abbey shock for drawdown clients

Abbey has written to 8,000 flexible mortgage account holders to tell them their drawdown funds are being slashed. Within the details of Abbey’s flexible account mortgage, the lender can revalue a property quarterly and readjust the drawdown facility. If it deems that a house has lost value, it can reduce the available funds’ pot in the offset loan, regardless of what has been invested by the borrower.


The waiting game

Why does the unit trust industry manage to transfer funds in five working days almost without fail, while insurers choose to stall annuity transfers for as long as five months with blatant disregard for their customers?


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