Russell Warwick only joined Primetime Retirement in January this year but already the benefits of working at a small company have become apparent to him.
“It’s certainly one of the things I noticed very early in my tenure – the ability to move and make things happen quickly is much easier in a small business like this,” he observed.
Mr Warwick took on his new role as managing director of the annuity provider after 25 years at Prudential, making the jump from a big industry name to one which is less well known in the marketplace.
He has wasted no time in implementing changes at the business.
“We’ve broadened our distribution footprint quite significantly already this year and we’ve already broadened our basic product proposition,” he said. “And a lot of that, because it’s a small company, is very much working on adviser feedback.
“So I have the luxury, in a small company, to be able to go out and talk to the major distributors and say: ‘What is it about my proposition and what could we do with it that would really help your business?’ And I have much more flexibility, then, to go back and make the changes.”
His previous employer Prudential made the decision to pull out of the annuity market entirely in early 2017, having withdrawn from the open annuity market initially.
Having joined a fixed-term annuity provider, Mr Warwick must believe there is a market for this type of retirement product.
He confirmed: “Yes, I’m a proponent of the annuity market, but I’m also a proponent of the drawdown market. The key is using [each of] those for consumers in the right ways and at the right time.”
He continued: “We think we offer consumers a very interesting middle-way-type option, where the consumer effectively has the ability to have the certainty of the known capital protection and a known income for a period of time, while maintaining some of the benefits of drawdown in terms of being able to keep control of the funds.”
But he admitted the industry needed to improve in terms of talking about drawdown and annuities in combination, and added “one of the innovations our industry needs to get better at is how to blend those types of propositions, within a single proposition and a single product”.
Primetime’s parent company is Key Retirement Group, which is also the owner of equity release adviser Key.
Here, Mr Warwick has spotted an opportunity to bring together the equity release and pensions marketplace.
“Typically, when a customer gets into retirement, his two biggest sources of assets will be his pension fund and his house,” he said.
“Actually, looking at how those two can work better in synergy, rather than being regarded as separate, is an interesting aspect.”
Asked how this synergy might look, he does not give too much away.