Pension provider LV has seen a significant increase in adviser demand for fixed term annuities on the back of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, with the number of applications almost four times higher in May than at the beginning of the year.
The provider had received a total of 68 applications for fixed term annuities in January 2020 but this grew to 197 last month, as stock market volatility caused by Covid-19 continued to worry retirees.
In January, February and March 2020, LV received a monthly average of 65 cases, but from March onwards the number of applications remained in the hundreds, it said.
The provider reported £1.6m in annual premium equivalent in May, compared with £900,000 in April.
Clive Bolton, managing director of savings and retirement at LV, said this was due to advisers continuing to seek a secure income for their clients who are concerned about the uncertainty Covid-19 has created.
Mr Bolton said: “The uncertainty caused by Covid and the volatility we continue to see in the markets has created an environment where customers are looking for a secure income or a secure known outcome – ie they have a guaranteed fund value at the end of their term.
“The other factor is that cash deposit returns are at an all-time low and policyholders want a better return while retaining certainty of outcome.
“It’s worth remembering that once platform fees are deducted money on deposit gives a negative return in a pension wrapper but fixed term annuities give a positive guaranteed return.”
A fixed-term annuity provides a regular retirement income for a number of years – often five or 10 – as well as a ‘maturity amount’ at the end of the specified period.
Savers can then use the maturity amount to invest in another retirement income product, such as another fixed-term annuity or a lifetime annuity, or they can take money out of their pension.
The LV fixed term annuity currently has a three-year minimum term.
According to LV, this product is likely to appeal to cautious retirees who are looking to ‘pause’ the big decisions and take a guaranteed option because they are not comfortable with the risk of investing in stock market-based funds until the market situation calms down.
Mr Bolton said: “The coronavirus outbreak and volatility in investment markets is worrying many savers who are approaching retirement or drawing an income from their pension fund.
“Many want security and fixed term annuities are useful solutions to consider in helping customers who like certainty and need to make decisions about their retirement but who aren’t ready or able to make long-term commitments.
“Although drawdown is hugely popular, savers in drawdown run the risk of running out of money in retirement. An alternative, which has become increasingly popular over the past few weeks, is a fixed term annuity.”
But Billy Burrows, retirement director at Better Retirement, warned the product comes with some risk.
He said: "There is a strong case for fixed term plans for those who want a regular guaranteed income for a short period of time but they don’t solve the problem of how to take a sustainable income over the longer term.