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Just Retirement on Trump's impact on UK pensions

Just Retirement on Trump's impact on UK pensions

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Retirement Partnership has said while much of society appeared to be in turmoil during 2016, the pensions industry had a slightly quieter year than 2015 when the pension freedoms were introduced.

Speaking to FTAdviser, he said, however, we have still seen a range of developments in the retirement market that are likely to have far reaching and challenging consequences.

He said: "In October, the government’s decision to scrap the secondary annuity market created a stir as we saw the national media and consumer groups express anger at what they saw as insurers being deliberately obstructive.  

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"Just Retirement and Partnership had both expressed support for this market but were very clear that consumer protections needed to be at the heart of any approach."

He said the debate around this topic rumbles on and it will be interesting to see whether there may be any alternative proposals brought to the table for debate in 2017.

Mr Lowe said while the Brexit vote and the US election results have far wider implications, the shock waves were also felt in the pensions market.

"Annuity rates which are linked to bonds and gilts suffered as the UK reeled from the surprise vote to exit the European Union while Donald Trump’s  election appears to have had a more positive impact.  

"While those of us in the financial services industry are acutely aware of the ongoing impact of global politics on retirement funding, this is arguably one of the first times – outside a financial crisis – that the man on the street saw a direct correlation."

Mr Lowe said 2016 was also the year when we started to see the impact of the pension freedoms and more people felt able to express concerns without being tarred as protectionist.  

"In the first half of 2016, we at JRP Group grew our sales of guaranteed income for life solutions, which were up 17 per cent pro forma compared to the same period in the previous year, as consumers sought the security offered by these arrangements."

Mr Lowe added the latest HM Revenue & Customs figures suggest that a steady stream of people have exercised their option to take out an average of £10,000 from their pension pots.

"That is enough to push someone on the basic state pension into the next tax band, and almost certainly is for those who are still working.

"The risk of triggering an unexpected tax bill, of being faced with complex product choices and of being subjected to increasing scamming activity clearly points to people benefiting from receiving more help when making these choices."

He added while in an ideal world, everyone would have access to a regulated financial adviser; this is simply not possible for a variety of economic and practical reasons.  

Mr Lowe also said given that 88 per cent of people who used the government’s free Pension Wise guidance service said it had helped them make an informed choice about what to do next and increased the use of regulated financial advice, there is increased discussion around how the industry can get more people to use the service.