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The Financial Services Consumer Panel, (FSCP) recently published a report which argued that the annuity market does not work well for the majority of consumers. The Panel felt that the “complex market” was “failing to deliver good outcomes for many consumers”.
The value of annuities is increasingly being questioned by journalists and opinion formers. Rates are improving but have been relatively low and too few individuals exercise choice or have access to the advice they need. Those in favour of other alternative income options, such as income drawdown, have signalled that it is the end of annuities. Yet, annuities offer significant benefits over other forms of pension income. A guaranteed income for life is considered a better option by some customers.
The debate, sponsored by Legal & General, a leading annuity provider, in conjunction with the International Longevity Centre - UK (ILC-UK) was held in the House of Lords, on Thursday 30 January 2014.
During the event we explored what the industry, government and the regulator needs to do to respond to the FSCP challenges and whether annuities are still fit for purpose. Or does the industry need to innovate in product design and access to flexible solutions that meet future customers’ expectations?
The event, chaired by Baroness Sally Greengross, firstly presented the views of a panel of six leading representatives from across the industry who have an interest in the at retirement market outlining whether they believe that annuities are still fit for purposes and if not, what other options they believe should be considered.
The panel included Sue Lewis, Chair of the Financial Services Consumer Panel; Dan Hyde, Personal Finance Editor of the Daily Telegraph; Tom McPhail, Head of Research at Hargreaves Lansdown and Chair of Pension Income Choice Association (PICA); Ros Altmann, Economist and former Downing Street adviser; Jane Vass, Head of Public Policy at Age UK and Tim Gosden, Head of Strategy for Legal & General’s individual annuity business.
Following the panel presentation the debate was then opened to the invited audience which included parliamentarians and senior representatives from across the industry. Senior representatives of charities, think tanks, government departments, regulators and selected media contacts who regularly write on this subject, were also invited.