Schemes ditch annuity brokers in favour of whole of market IFAs

James Phillips
clock • 2 min read

Pension schemes are increasingly seeking to provide additional support to members at retirement through online modellers and regulated financial advice, Aon says.

Half of schemes are including transfer values in retirement packs, or shortly plan to, the consultancy's survey found, while annuity brokers are being shown the door.

Just a handful of the 316 UK schemes captured in Aon's Member Options Survey were now offering support at the basic minimum required by the law.

One in ten schemes now provide defined contribution (DC) members with fully paid-for or subsidised access to independent financial advisers with many looking to replace "old style" annuity brokers.

The survey also found two-thirds of schemes were planning to, or already had, signed the regulator's anti-scam pledge in a further bid to support members. The pledge, launched in November, encourages trustees to take a number of measures around communication, signposting, and recognising scams.

Aon head of member options Kelly Hurren said: "There continues to be a clear trend for schemes to provide members with more support with their retirement decisions."

She continued: "One new trend in our 2021 survey was the increasing focus on DC scheme members, as schemes look to replace ‘old style' annuity brokers with ‘whole of market' independent financial advisers who can advise on annuity and drawdown products."

Nevertheless, Covid has caused some schemes to bring forward action to reduce risk or increase flexibility for members, with one-third closing the scheme to accrual or implementing changes to future benefits.

Furthermore, another third were running redundancy exercises, and an additional third were introducing new member options in order to reduce risk. These included bridging pensions, either in bulk as part of a redundancy programme or at retirement.

Hurren added: "Where schemes had made decisions to close schemes to future accrual or to implement benefit changes pre-pandemic, we have seen that the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 has brought into greater focus the need to support members with their retirement decisions. This has particularly been evident where members are facing an earlier-than-planned retirement alongside redundancy.

"Many schemes going through these exercises are making online educational modellers or regulated financial advice available to their members after closure, or are offering other in-scheme options to help make earlier-than-planned retirements more affordable to members."

James Phillips
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James Phillips

Professional Pensions journalist from 2016-2022

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