Windsor Life worst annuity transfer offender in new research

The ACH, which is a subsidiary of Rockingham Retirement, says the appalling delays mean that thousands of pension savers are potentially missing out on the best rate annuity deals.

Rockingham Retirement analysed the transfer data for all its cases over the first six months of 2009 and found that Windsor Life is the worst offender, taking around 10 weeks to transfer pension money.

Phoenix, Winterthur, Scottish Mutual and the Co-operative Insurance Services are also among the worst offenders, according to the research.

ACH managing director Steve Hunt says: “Foot dragging by major providers has frustrated many pensioners who now want to take advantage of one of the many excellent open market options, rather than stick with their provider.”

Hunt has written to more than 30 of the top pension providers highlighting that transfer delays often result in people getting less retirement income. He is also urging the FSA to clamp down on the “appalling inefficiencies”.

He says: “Transfer times are gradually improving but three to four weeks to transfer funds is still far too long and, as our research shows, there are clearly some serious offenders out there.”

ABI spokesman Jonathan French says: “The pensions industry’s Options initiative, which involves over 90 per cent of the annuity market, has cut average transfer times across the industry to an average of just eight calendar days in the first quarter of 2009, so Mr Hunt’s data is not representative of the real situation.

“We have urged all providers who are not currently participating in Options to do so as soon as possible, in the interests of all annuity customers.”

In response, Hunt says: “Options is a fantastic initiative and I support it 100 per cent. But there are only 19 companies who participate from a ceding scheme point of view. That is 19 companies out of literally hundreds of pension accumulation providers. And who is missing? Windsor Life.

“The eight days Mr French refers to is not reality. Some providers are very good but it is the dire administration in obtaining the necessary documentation that is often the main cause for delay.

“Let’s face it, transferring funds actually takes seconds or should do. Bottom line is some companies take a few days to transfer funds while others take a few weeks and that is wrong, definitely not TCF and at a time of falling annuity rates financially effecting thousands of people for the rest of their lives.”