UK Annuities: FINANCIAL CONDUCT REGULATED SITES • QUALIFIED, TRUSTWORTHY ANNUITY ADVICE

Centralising Your Pension Annuity Search

BUT FIRST, SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION THAT COULD BOOST YOUR RETIREMENT FINANCES Have you taken out a credit or store card, mortgage, secured loan, unsecured loan or hire purchase agreement in the last 10 years? If you have (or have had) a mortgage, loan or credit card with providers such as Barclaycard, Abbey, Santander, Littlewoods, MBNA, Halifax, HSBC, HBOS, Lloyds, Natwest, RBS or in fact any other credit provider, you may be able to reclaim up to £15,000 if you were sold PPI insurance - in most cases even if you have lost the paperwork. Learn more about PPI Claims now!


annuity comparisons Visit Open Annuities

You could increase your annuity by thousands. Make sure you recognise the best annuity advice when you get it. The more information about annuities you have, the more able you will be to recognise the best annuity advice when you receive it.
Visit Open Annuities Financial Services Register Number 530750


Annuity Plan Visit Pension Annuity Plan

You may be able to secure several thousand pounds more over your lifetime from annuity providers than your current pension provider. Many are unaware of this very important information. The more information you have, the more able you will be to recognise the best deal when you see it.
Visit Pension Annuity Plan Financial Services Register Number 530750


annuities plan Visit Annuities Plan

All fund sizes welcomed. Why should the annuity buyer be careful? Buying from your pension provider isn't always necessarily the best idea.
Visit Annuities Plan Financial Services Register Number 530750


annuity comparisons Visit Pension Annuity Planner

This company may be able to increase your standard pension annuity through enhanced annuities.
Visit Pension Annuity Planner Financial Services Register Number 530750


annuity comparisons Visit Annuity Base

Using specialist annuity industry search software, an FCA registered Independent Financial Adviser will query top annuity and annuity alternative providers' databases to help you compare and choose which one is the best for you.
Visit Annuity Base Financial Services Register Number 530750


annuity comparisons Visit The Enhanced Annuity

Specialists in enhanced annuities. It is estimated that up to 40% of the UK population could boost their pension annuity income with an "enhanced annuity".
Visit The Enhanced Annuity Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit Annuity Comparisons

Why would you use an automated annuity comparison website when an authorised, qualified pension consultant can advise you which is the best annuity for free with no obligation to buy? There are many reasons why you should not trust your future income to comparison tables on faceless sites. In some matters you need absolute certainty.
Visit Annuity Comparisons Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit Annuities Extra

Pension annuities for those of us who are not in the best of health. If you've a health problem, no matter how small or insignificant you think it is, you'll stand an increased chance of a higher annuity income.
Visit Annuities Extra Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit Simple Annuities

Finding an annuity does not have to be difficult. Pension annuity retirement finance experts with vast experience of annuities are waiting to help you. Compare pension annuities and annuity alternatives now.
Visit Simple Annuities Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit The Female Annuity

1000's of women retire every week in the UK. Compare annuities for women and their alternatives.
Visit The Female Annuity Financial Services Register Number 460094


annuity comparisons Visit Annuity Pathway

Your simple pension annuity journey. How you might take the wrong annuity route and lose the annuity income that is rightfully yours.
Visit Annuity Pathway Financial Services Register Number 460094


annuity comparisons Visit Just One Bite Annuities

How a pension annuity will affect your life. You will only get one bite of the annuity apple. Once you buy an annuity, there's no going back.
Visit Just One Bite Annuities Financial Services Register Number 460094


annuity comparisons Visit Pension Annuities Plus

Your annuity income may increase if you have had certain conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma or high cholesterol. This is also true for smokers and for those who have worked in certain occupations. Get pension annuity comparisons now.
Visit Pension Annuities Plus Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit Annuity Answers

Why should the pension annuity buyer beware and why do so many retirees ignore a much bigger annuity income? Compare annuities now.
Visit Annuity Answers Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit Smokers Annuities

Your lifespan as a smoker and your annuity options. We're sorry to be blunt, but you most likely already know that smokers, in general, have shorter lifespans than non-smokers. Of course annuity providers are well aware of this unfortunate fact of life. Increase your annuity now.
Visit Smokers Annuities Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit Annuity Key

Unlike some companies, all fund sizes are accepted. The Retirement Income Customer Hotline Limited may be able to boost your pension income by more than 40% compared with your current pension provider's offering.
Visit Annuity Key Financial Services Register Number 460094


annuity comparisons Visit Buy an Annuity

Buying an annuity from your pension provider isn't always necessarily the best option! You might be able to secure several thousand pounds more over your retirement from annuity providers than your current pension provider.
Visit Buy an Annuity Financial Services Register Number 154622


annuity office Visit Annuity Office

We recognise our annuity clients as individuals, which is why we deal with every case on a one-to-one individual basis. Did you know for instance that your income may increase if you have had certain health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or asthma? This is also true for smokers and for those who have worked in certain occupations.
Visit Annuity Office Financial Services Register Number 483817


FSA ANNUITIES: Annuities News


Thematic project examples

Here are some examples of issues on which we have decided to undertake a thematic project.

Variable annuities

Variable annuities are a new retirement product in the mass market, offering a mixture of income and capital growth benefits. We looked into this product in December 2007.

The product looks as if it could be a useful addition to the 'at retirement' field of products. However, there is a significant risk that consumers are not aware of the risk profile of these products against traditional retirement products, which could occasionally be detrimental. While uptake of the products is currently low, we have identified several failings in consumer-facing documentation and we believe consumer/adviser interest is likely to grow.

So we are undertaking a small, focused piece of thematic work with the providers involved. In doing this we want to ensure consumer-facing documentation meets our requirements and to ensure that providers carefully consider their target customer base for these products.

Pension Transfer Advice (including SIPPs)
On A-day, 6 April 2006, the government implemented a new single tax regime for pensions. Since then, we have identified a significant growth in single-premium transfers into personal pension plans (PPPs), including self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs).

Transfers into PPPs and SIPPs may be appropriate for some consumers, but they won't be suitable for everyone. Switching to a PPP or SIPP from some pension products - particularly those with high exit fees or lower investment risk - could result in financial detriment to some consumers.

We set up a project to assess the risk of poor quality advice when transferring into SIPPs. The project now includes transfers into PPPs, including SIPPs. The intended outcomes of this project are that consumers are given suitable advice when they are thinking about transferring into PPPs and SIPPs, and firms consider their TCF obligations when designing and marketing PPPs and SIPPs.

We are planning to publish the results of our work in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Open Market Option

In 2002 we introduced rules relating to the Open Market Option (OMO). These rules say that, given the significant differences possible between annuity rates and the finality of the decision, when a member of an individual pension scheme approaches retirement, the pension provider must explain to the member that they may get a higher pension income by shopping around.

Research shows around one-third of personal pension members reaching retirement switch providers when buying an annuity. Another third actively research other providers' annuity rates, but then decide to buy their annuity from their original provider. The remaining third don't shop around, for various reasons.

We have been contributing to the government's review of the OMO and support the measures announced in the Chancellor's December 2007 pre-budget report. In the light of the work carried out under that review, we are gathering information about firms' practices and the impact they may have on the effectiveness of OMO information firms give to pension customers approaching retirement age.

This follows up on some preliminary work we carried out earlier last year with a small number of firms (where we looked at some examples of wake-up packs). We reported on this in our May 2007 Insurance Sector Briefing.

We have contacted all insurers that write pension annuity business, to ask for specimens of their OMO literature and other information, including examples of their current pension immediate annuity rates.

As a separate matter, we have contacted a limited number of firms about the time it takes to transfer funds under the OMO process. We have been given information by some sources suggesting that particular firms take much longer, on average, to transfer OMO funds than is laid down in the relevant ABI Statement of Good Practice. To establish the facts, we are gathering information from a limited number of firms so we can examine sample case files.

At this stage we are analysing the information from providers to gain a better understanding of market practice in this area. But we don't exclude the possibility of taking action against firms, for example where we find customers are not being treated fairly.

General insurance call centres

Our rules specify the minimum amount of information that firms must give a customer before they buy a general insurance product over the telephone. Our regulatory work highlighted that several firms were struggling to provide this minimum amount of information.

We were concerned that customers were not being given sufficient information to make an informed decision about whether the product was right for them at the point of sale. So in July 2006, we decided to undertake a thematic project on this. We examined whether firms had suitable sales processes and systems and controls in place to ensure they were treating customers fairly when selling general insurance products over the telephone.

Analysis and action

The project involved a sample of 43 firms of different sizes and business models including direct insurers and brokers and covered 32 different types of general insurance. It comprised three stages:

In the first stage we used a questionnaire to gather information about the firms' sales processes and systems and controls.
We selected 19 firms from this sample for the second stage. This involved listening to over 260 calls to investigate the firms' sales processes.
For the third stage, we decided to visit ten of these firms. We interviewed staff at all levels from senior management to sales agents, visited in-house and outsourced call centres and spent time on the call centre floor listening-in to live calls.
Project findings
We found the standard of sales where the customer called the firm was generally acceptable, although they could improve their disclosure of significant exclusions and limitations.

However, the standard of sales was poor when insurance policies, such as personal accident insurance, health cash plans and accident and sickness insurance, were sold through cold calling. The main weaknesses we found were in training programmes, supervision of staff and a lack of management information other than for sales and call volumes.

Action

In April 2007, we communicated our findings in a press release.

We also produced a good and bad practice guide [PDF] for firms.

Mortgage Early Repayment Charges

In February 2007, we completed a thematic project about mortgage early repayment charges (ERCs). We undertook the project in response to complaints we received from consumers under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 ('the Regulations').

The consumers alleged that ERC terms in their mortgage contracts were unfair or not expressed in plain and intelligible language, so we looked at them under the Regulations. As we explain below, because of the findings of our work and our risk-based approach, we are not proposing to take any further regulatory action now, but will continue to deal with any complaints as usual under the Regulations.

Analysis & action

Our review of ERC terms

We assessed whether, in our view, the ERC terms were fair, whether they were drafted in plain and intelligible language, and whether we considered that there was enough actual or potential risk to consumers to justify further action.

We reviewed just over 60 mortgage contracts containing ERC terms. This involved engaging in discussions with the firms about which we had received complaints (primarily mainstream lenders and a sample of firms from the sub-prime market). We also considered the work which had already been done on ERC terms by organisations such as the Office of Fair Trading, Which? and the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

Our conclusions

Ultimately whether a term is a core term is a matter for the Courts. In our view, an ERC term may be in breach of the Regulations where it requires a consumer to pay a disproportionately high sum in compensation for exiting a mortgage contract early;
we also remind firms of MCOB 12.3 which contains specific provisions in relation to early repayment charges; and
an ERC will be in breach of the Regulations where it is not expressed in a plain and intelligible way in the contract.
We obtained undertakings under the Regulations from two firms about their ERC terms.

We encourage all regulated firms to remain alert to undertakings concerning other firms, since these are of potential value in indicating our likely attitude to similar terms or terms with similar effects. The undertakings we obtained should improve the standards of fairness in other consumer contracts containing similar terms in the financial sector.

We did not find widespread unfair terms. Because of this and in light of the undertakings we have obtained for ERC terms and our risk-based approach to regulation, we don't intend to conduct any further thematic work on ERCs under the Regulations at this time. However, we will consider individual complaints about ERC terms as part of our general duty under the Regulations and follow up with firms, if appropriate.

To find out more about our work under the Regulations see the Unfair contract terms web pages.

Statutory Rights

Having reviewed statutory rights clauses in standard form consumer contracts, we have concluded that clauses which just refer to statutory rights without providing any further information may not be plain and intelligible and are therefore potentially unfair. This is because it is likely that consumers may not know what their statutory rights are.

The Office of Fair Trading has already obtained an undertaking from a firm in relation to this issue. In that case, the firm undertook to replace the original term: 'The above conditions don't affect your statutory rights' with the new term: 'Nothing in these conditions will reduce your statutory rights relating to faulty or mis-described goods. For further information about your statutory rights contact your local authority Trading Standards Department or Citizens Advice Bureau.'

In light of this, when updating their standard terms and conditions, firms should consider including wording which explains to consumers how they can find out more information about their statutory rights.

Keywords: Pension, Annuities, Annuity, Pensions

Please note that the annuities and income drawdown information contained within the articles and general text on Annuities Central may not be intended for annuity consumer use, may no longer be current and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions. It is very important that you don't use this annuity information in isolation to decide which annuity or annuity alternative to buy. Annuity comparisons and pensions information or opinions expressed are made as at the date of this publication and are subject to change without notice. Always seek the help of an annuity broker before you buy an annuity.

annuity comparisons Visit Open Annuities

You could increase your annuity by thousands. Make sure you recognise the best annuity advice when you get it. The more information about annuities you have, the more able you will be to recognise the best annuity advice when you receive it.
Visit Open Annuities Financial Services Register Number 530750


Annuity Plan Visit Pension Annuity Plan

You may be able to secure several thousand pounds more over your lifetime from annuity providers than your current pension provider. Many are unaware of this very important information. The more information you have, the more able you will be to recognise the best deal when you see it.
Visit Pension Annuity Plan Financial Services Register Number 530750


annuities plan Visit Annuities Plan

All fund sizes welcomed. Why should the annuity buyer be careful? Buying from your pension provider isn't always necessarily the best idea.
Visit Annuities Plan Financial Services Register Number 530750


annuity comparisons Visit Pension Annuity Planner

This company may be able to increase your standard pension annuity through enhanced annuities.
Visit Pension Annuity Planner Financial Services Register Number 530750


annuity comparisons Visit Annuity Base

Using specialist annuity industry search software, an FCA registered Independent Financial Adviser will query top annuity and annuity alternative providers' databases to help you compare and choose which one is the best for you.
Visit Annuity Base Financial Services Register Number 530750


annuity comparisons Visit The Enhanced Annuity

Specialists in enhanced annuities. It is estimated that up to 40% of the UK population could boost their pension annuity income with an "enhanced annuity".
Visit The Enhanced Annuity Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit Annuity Comparisons

Why would you use an automated annuity comparison website when an authorised, qualified pension consultant can advise you which is the best annuity for free with no obligation to buy? There are many reasons why you should not trust your future income to comparison tables on faceless sites. In some matters you need absolute certainty.
Visit Annuity Comparisons Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit Annuities Extra

Pension annuities for those of us who are not in the best of health. If you've a health problem, no matter how small or insignificant you think it is, you'll stand an increased chance of a higher annuity income.
Visit Annuities Extra Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit Simple Annuities

Finding an annuity does not have to be difficult. Pension annuity retirement finance experts with vast experience of annuities are waiting to help you. Compare pension annuities and annuity alternatives now.
Visit Simple Annuities Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit The Female Annuity

1000's of women retire every week in the UK. Compare annuities for women and their alternatives.
Visit The Female Annuity Financial Services Register Number 460094


annuity comparisons Visit Annuity Pathway

Your simple pension annuity journey. How you might take the wrong annuity route and lose the annuity income that is rightfully yours.
Visit Annuity Pathway Financial Services Register Number 460094


annuity comparisons Visit Just One Bite Annuities

How a pension annuity will affect your life. You will only get one bite of the annuity apple. Once you buy an annuity, there's no going back.
Visit Just One Bite Annuities Financial Services Register Number 460094


annuity comparisons Visit Pension Annuities Plus

Your annuity income may increase if you have had certain conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma or high cholesterol. This is also true for smokers and for those who have worked in certain occupations. Get pension annuity comparisons now.
Visit Pension Annuities Plus Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit Annuity Answers

Why should the pension annuity buyer beware and why do so many retirees ignore a much bigger annuity income? Compare annuities now.
Visit Annuity Answers Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit Smokers Annuities

Your lifespan as a smoker and your annuity options. We're sorry to be blunt, but you most likely already know that smokers, in general, have shorter lifespans than non-smokers. Of course annuity providers are well aware of this unfortunate fact of life. Increase your annuity now.
Visit Smokers Annuities Financial Services Register Number 483817


annuity comparisons Visit Annuity Key

Unlike some companies, all fund sizes are accepted. The Retirement Income Customer Hotline Limited may be able to boost your pension income by more than 40% compared with your current pension provider's offering.
Visit Annuity Key Financial Services Register Number 460094


annuity comparisons Visit Buy an Annuity

Buying an annuity from your pension provider isn't always necessarily the best option! You might be able to secure several thousand pounds more over your retirement from annuity providers than your current pension provider.
Visit Buy an Annuity Financial Services Register Number 154622


annuity office Visit Annuity Office

We recognise our annuity clients as individuals, which is why we deal with every case on a one-to-one individual basis. Did you know for instance that your income may increase if you have had certain health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or asthma? This is also true for smokers and for those who have worked in certain occupations.
Visit Annuity Office Financial Services Register Number 483817