When not trying to get his golf handicap below 16, Ronnie Lymburn lives and breathes financial services. In the industry for 40 years and with a wife (Sandra) who is investment marketing director of Zurich IFA, Lymburn is still looking to broaden the service he can give his customers.
At the age of 58, the director of both The Income Drawdown Advisory Bureau and The Annuity Bureau is looking at pastures new with the launch of a long-term care operation, The Care Bureau, due to go live at the beginning of September.
Born in Glasgow in 1942, Lymburn joined a big Glasgow broker as a motor insurance clerk straight from school at 18, moving on after eight years to Equity & Law where he spent 25 years, rising to deputy marketing manager.
After a stint with stockbrokers Alexander Laing & Cruickshank and eight years with Prudential, he joined The Annuity Bureau in 1995 and has been committed to promoting improvements to the structure of retirement solutions.
He is confident that his business model will stand up to whatever changes may be around the corner and he sees the expansion into long-term care as a logical step.
“There is a lot of synergy with income drawdown, annuities and long-term care. People who need advice on income drawdown and annuities have parents who need to deal with long-term care issues. The whole grey market is struggling with the longevity problem but has increasing net spendable wealth and wants good IFA advice. As clients, they also tend to be open to the idea of paying fees rather than commission.”
Lymburn feels the future is good for the two existing arms of the group.
He says: “The move to defined contribution from defined benefit is now six years old. People are looking for choice and if they die they want to leave their money to their dependants. That is the main driver behind our business.”
He is sure drawdown will grow more attractive to the high-net-worth individual and sees funds coming into the business from maturing group money-purchase schemes from the sort of people who want to control their money themselves. But he is concerned that tax-free cash is being churned when it should not be and that some IFAs are recommending buying income-generating products that will increase the client's tax liability.
On annuity reform, Lymburn believes the compulsion to buy an annuity at 75 should be abolished and that the present advice mechanism is strong enough to ensure that buying an annuity is part of best advice.
He believes the Government should take a stand and act on making decent pension provision for lower-income households a priority. “Historically, one body can deliver pensions at the bottom of the market and that is the DSS. The Government should bite the bullet and provide an index-linked pension for everybody, and bring in some proper investment managers. If we had had a properly funded Serps we would not be in the mess we are now.”
L ymburn thinks that compulsory contributions to stakeholder pensions both by employers and employees will come, despite the cost to industry in general.
But he also feels that IFAs have more pain to feel from the 1 per cent price cap as providers are obliged to pass on more of the cost-cutting to any commission given to IFAs.
He has spoken up for the IFA corner on many issues, particularly in the areas of annuity reform and polarisation, and feels IFAs as a whole should be more vocal in getting their message across.
He believes that the Treasury is being led by the bancassurers in the debate over polarisation and that the IFA channel needs a more cohesive approach to explaining why the status quo on polarisation is the best one.
“The IFA sector is exceptionally poorly represented in lobbying. For years we have not had a single body that represents the views of the IFA. I think the Treasury has been persuaded by the likes of Mark Weinberg and the bancassurers, who are vulnerable at present while IFAs are doing better and have an interest in depolarisation. But if multi-ties do come in, the salesmen will say 'I'm as good as an IFA' and that does not serve the consumer well.”
Although passionate about the independence of advice, Lymburn remains optimistic about the possibility of depolarisation, saying he could foresee a future where business sense would mean he would split the business and have one part multi-tied and the other part independent, although he adds that he would prefer to stay independent.
For a man who has spent much of his professional life promoting annuity reform, his career and personal ambitions for the future are not surprising – in his career he would like to see the number of people taking the open market option when buying an annuity rise from its current 40 per cent to around 90 per cent, and personally he wants to retire with sufficient means to enjoy family life, good food and golf.
If more people do takethe open market option routeit should go some way to ensuring that he achieves his own retirement goals.
Lives: Charville, Berkshire.
Education: Jordan Hill College School, Glasgow.
Jobs to date: Equity & Law Life Assurance 1968-85 marketing director; Alexander Laing & Cruickshank 1985-87, sales director; Prudential 1987-92, area sales director and customer business manager. 1995 joined The Annuity Bureau.
Career Ambition: Wants to see far greater take-up of open market options among consumers from the current 40 per cent to 90 per cent.
Life Ambition: To retire with sufficient income to fund retirement, and to get golf handicap down to 16.
Likes: Good food and drink.
Dislikes: Negative people.
He says: “The depolarisation argument always falls down when you get to multi-ties. If multi-ties come in, the salesmen will say 'I'm as good as an IFA” and that does not serve the consumer well.”
Peers say: “He brought breadth and vision to the Annuity and Income Drawdown bureaux.” Annuity Direct director Stuart Bayliss.
Car: BMW Series 5.