FSA opens online shopping for annuity purchase

This week, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) launched its independent annuities tables to help consumers nearing retirement shop online and compare the rates available for annuities under their open-market option, which lets you leave your existing pension provider and choose another firm to pay your annuity.

These tables are the latest in a series the FSA began in 2001, covering unit trusts, mortgages, investment bonds and pensions. Until now, the only FSA pensions tables have listed providers of investment schemes.

For the annuity tables, consumers key in the size of their pension pot, their age and the type of annuity they would like, single, flat, escalating, inflation-linked, joint life with survivor options and enhanced rates for smokers. This leads to a table showing how much monthly income the annuity managers offer, ranging at the moment from B & CE Insurance's £683 out of a £100,000 pot to GE Life's £529.

Alan Grant, manager of the FSA tables, said: "Our tables will make it much easier to shop around because they provide rates for an individual's precise age and size of pension pot. They can shortlist annuities to investigate further. Our research shows shopping could boost your retirement income. After you've bought your annuity, you're stuck with it for life. You can't switch to another provider or a different type later."

INFORMATION

*The tables are available at www.fsa.gov.uk/tables/

*The FSA also publishes guides on the various types of annuity and the open-market option. Phone the FSA Consumer Helpline on 0845 606 1234.

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