Within the letter to the policyholder, in which a number of questions are asked to ensure they are eligible, the spokesperson claimed it also specifically recommends that the customer should consult a financial adviser and it give guidance on how they can contact an adviser if they do not have one.
The spokesperson said: “We also point out to the customer the availability of the open market option facility. In cases where we do write to the customer, we also send copies of the letters to their last-known adviser at the same time.
“Our aim is to ensure our customers have the best opportunity to optimise their retirement income through a product that is specifically designed for their needs.”
He pointed out that Friends is “not engaging” in direct advice and it is “not our intention” to compromise how IFAs work with their individual clients upon retirement.
He told FTAdviser: “We believe that the best outcome for customers is that they receive personalised financial advice and we fully support this.
“However, we believe it is also incumbent on the whole industry to raise awareness of and improve access to retirement options that may significantly increase a retiree’s pension.”