UK - Insurance giant Norwich Union has blamed employer concerns over regulatory uncertainty for a drop in its corporate pensions business.
Figures released by Norwich Union’s parent company, Aviva, showed an increase in individual plans as employers backed away from providing company schemes.
NU – the UK’s biggest life assurer – reported that corporate pensions business had dropped to £200m in the first quarter, down from £260m in the same period last year.
But individual pension sales rose from £443m to £450m. This was made up of group personal pension plan sales of £87m (up 14% from £76m) and personal pension plan sales of £363m (down from £367m in 2003).
NU expects the trend to continue with employers increasingly concerned about the cost, long-term commitment and regulatory uncertainty of providing company pension plans.
Chief executive of the group’s UK life operation, Gary Withers, said:
“Employers are finding it quite expensive to offer the sort of pension provision and products they used to, and they are finding employees are not really valuing them. Employers are less keen to offer pensions as part of the standard arrangements and so it will be a smaller market for us.”
Overall Aviva reported a “pleasing” start to 2004 as savings new business – including pensions, bonds and unit trusts – grew by a stronger than expected 6%. The UK market was described as remaining tough, although Aviva said it had been able to improve its position by focusing on value rather than volume.
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