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Misery of pensioners in long wait for cash

Providers have been condemned for horrendous administrative delays to transfer pension cash under the open market option, leading to calls for a single discharge form.

Partnership Assurance sales and marketing director Ruth Clarke told Money Marketing’s at-retirement round table that the worst delay in her experience is 253 working days.

This prompted Living Time sales and marketing director Dave Harris to suggest that companies may have to be named and shamed for delays in future.

Clarke said: “We need to make the exercise of the open market option much more efficient as a transaction. This is something we have told the FSA. The number of stories you hear about people losing guarantees because of delays is terrible.

“Missing income if you are relying on that income because all your life you have been used to having a regular wage, even for a couple of months, because someone cannot pay the money across, is just unacceptable.”

PI Financial director Tim Sutcliffe said: “Surely, we as an industry can deliver the tax-free cash to the client on their retirement and start the income stream in a month?”

Kerr Henderson associate Mike Hardy said: “We have got a single application form for impaired life. Let us bring in a single discharge form so you do not have to ring up, wait half an hour in the queue and then it takes six weeks to send out. Why can’t we have a unified discharge form?”

Retirement Partnership managing director Steve Lewis said: “A life insurer will only change back-office admin systems if its hand is forced. Unless the back-office system is overbearing and causing a huge cost, there is no way they will make changes on this.”

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