Annuities: a £4bn pension heist, or an excellent alternative to purchase? | Cash


Annuities have turned out to be fabulously worthwhile for Britain’s pension firms – and one thing of a catastrophe for a lot of of these compelled into them earlier than pensions freedom started in 2015.

Solely now could be it starting to emerge simply how terrible these annuity charges have been. An annuity is mainly an revenue for all times, and as soon as the contract is taken out, you may’t exit it. However the pension firms that bought the aged a dud at the moment are serving to themselves to a multibillion-pound windfall.

The sums are staggering. The pension firms based mostly their annuity charges on projections of how lengthy folks at 65 have been more likely to survive. However they obtained their projections unsuitable: it seems we aren’t dwelling so long as anticipated. Simply final week the actuaries clipped six months off projected life expectancy, with the projections now 13 months decrease than in 2015.

What it means is that the pension firms received’t must pay out as a lot annuity cash as they initially offered for (and charged folks for). Somewhat than handing it again to those it overcharged, locked-in pensioners, the business is handing it to shareholders. Final week Aviva “launched” £780m of money that had been put aside to pay annuities. M&G Prudential launched one other £441m – 27% of its working revenue. Authorized & Common discovered £433m, whereas Phoenix chipped in one other £205m.

Metropolis analysts say this shareholder bonanza will go on for an additional seven years, because the pension firms undertake new, decrease life-expectancy, mortality tables. Perhaps £4bn is a conservative estimate – it might be billions extra.

The pension firms argue that it’s all swings and roundabouts: they took on the danger of guaranteeing a payout and, when markets fell in 2007-08, they took fairly a success. I additionally occur to know of 1 annuitant (that’s you, Dad) who purchased an annuity paying 14.5% on the finish of the 1980s. The annuity firm is, 29 years later, nonetheless paying out as he reaches his 93rd birthday. My dad has had his preliminary annuity funding repaid many instances over. However we are able to assume that with reserve releases working to the billions, winners corresponding to him have been the exception not the rule.

In the meantime, a unprecedented factor has occurred to annuity charges up to now two years: now that nobody is compelled to purchase them any longer, the charges on provide have miraculously improved. In 2016, the very best purchase for a £100,000 pension pot was a assured revenue of simply £4,495, however at this time that has risen to £5,551 – a 23% rise, despite the fact that gilt yields (used to cost annuities alongside longevity) haven’t materially modified over the interval. Perhaps a few of this rise is due to the decline in longevity, however I think it’s as a result of pension firms have needed to give you higher charges to draw patrons now we’re not compelled to purchase annuities.

Do you have to purchase an annuity now? At these charges they’re not the appalling worth they as soon as have been. They need to additionally rise a bit over the following few years because the longevity reductions are priced in.

Many advisers suggest a mixture of “drawdown” with annuities. With this, you purchase an annuity to cowl your fundamental annual dwelling prices, then draw down the remainder of your cash as and if you want it.

So how a lot will you want for that? Let’s assume you envisage needing £20,000 a yr in retirement as your fundamental revenue, and that you just get the £8,546.20 full state pension. That leaves you needing to purchase an annuity paying £11,453.80 a yr – which in flip means you want a pension pot of not less than £207,000, based on figures ready for Guardian Cash by Hargreaves Lansdown. An terrible lot of individuals will battle to get to that degree of saving.

There are additionally a number of alternate options paying the form of revenue an annuity supplies, with out locking up your cash and shedding all of it in case you die early. Loads of high-income bond and fairness funds yield 5%, though there are costs to pay, and probably extreme volatility at instances.

However right here’s a thought: in case you purchase an annuity from Aviva, it will provide you with an revenue of about 5%-5.5% a yr. However in case you purchase shares in Aviva on the inventory market, they’re at present yielding 7%. And if the analysts are proper and the “releases” from the annuity reserves have solely simply begun, then these dividends may gush for years to come back.

The place do you purchase an annuity? One nice useful resource is the government-funded Cash Recommendation Service at, You possibly can enter your particular person scenario and it’ll generate a free and neutral quote.

How a lot will you get for each £100,000 of pension financial savings?

The figures present the annual revenue that the pension firm will give in change for £100,000, with the revenue assured for all times, with the selection of both ‘no annual rises’ – the fee stays degree throughout the particular person’s total retirement, or ‘with annual RPI enhance’ the place the particular person’s fee rises yearly in line wit the retail costs index.

Age 65 no annual rises
Aviva £5,542
Simply £5,250
Hodge £5,242

Age 65 with annual RPI enhance
L&G £3,423
Simply £3,085

Age 70 no annual rises
Aviva £6,298
Simply £6,084
Hodge £6,061

Age 70 with annual RPI enhance
L&G £4,226
Simply £3,896

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