Pensions - Articles - Queens Speech could provide boost for annuities

The Queen’s Speech included the Financial Services and Markets Bill which will revoke EU regulation on financial services and replace it with one designed for the UK. This will include reforming Solvency II which is already the subject of an ongoing consultation. Solvency II governs how much capital insurance companies must hold and the types of assets they can invest in. Loosening of the regulation could add a further boost to annuity rates which have already been on the rise in recent months.

 Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown: “Today’s Queen’s speech didn’t provide much relief for people struggling with the soaring cost of living but there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon for those wanting to include annuities in their retirement income strategy.

 Solvency II reform is already subject to an ongoing consultation and the inclusion of a Financial Services and Markets Bill today adds further momentum by aiming to revoke EU regulation governing the industry in favour of a more UK-specific approach.

 Its introduction in the aftermath of the global financial crisis was designed to make sure insurers were well capitalised but was met with concern that it would depress annuity incomes. The ongoing government review said reform could result in a material release of as much as 10%-15% of the capital currently held by life insurers unlocking potential to invest billions of pounds in long-term assets. Such change could lead to a bounce in incomes which have already been on the rise in recent months as interest rates increase.

 In April 2021 a £100,000 pension pot would get you a single life level annuity income of £4,882 a year. Now you could get an income closer to £5,700 per year. This is still some way off the highs seen before the global financial crisis, but further increases will make more people willing to consider them as part of their retirement income strategy. However, it’s worth pointing out that further rises are not guaranteed.

 If you need a guaranteed income then it could be a good idea to annuitise in slices over time, rather than all at once, depending on your need. This means your pot isn’t completely exposed to annuity rates at any particular point and you can potentially benefit from higher rates in future through an enhanced annuity.”

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