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Transfer times cut by three weeks in a year

The average open market option transfer time using the Association of British Insurers’ Options programme increased by 44 per cent to 11 days in the second quarter of this year with some providers taking nearly four weeks to process transfers.

Data released last week shows 9,448 transfers were processed between April 1 and June 30 with an average weighted transfer time of 11.1 days compared with 7.7 days in the first quarter of this year.

There are stark difference in turn-round times between providers signed up to Options. Phoenix was the worst offender, recording an average of 25.6 calendar days to transfer certain policies. Friends Provident took 21.1 days and Pearl Assurance and Aviva took around 18 days.

The fastest turn-round times were by Prudential at 6.9 days and Skandia and MGM Advantage, both with an average transfer time of just over eight days.

ABI director of life and savings Maggie Craig says: “It was always expected that average transfer times would fluctuate. The good news is that in just one year, average transfer times have fallen by nearly three weeks.”

The industry average for transfers in 2008 was 31 calendar days, according to the ABI.

The Retirement Adviser head of retirement planning Nick Flynn says: “Even though it has increased, the turn-round time is still impressive and is a big step forward but we must get further providers on board and all providers must support all product categories.”

Fourteen providers are currently using Options for Omo transfers. Zurich and Scottish Widows remain the only providers of the 16 involved not yet to go live despite Options starting in early December last year.

Zurich is expected to go live this quarter but Widows has not yet set a date.

Options was extended last month and five providers – Aegon, Aviva, Legal & General, Prudential and Standard Life – are now using the programme for pension-to-pension transfers.

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