Anyone taking out an annuity right now is likely to end up in a worse position than they should. That's because they may not know that they could get a better deal. That, in a nutshell, is why the annuity market is broken. If four out of five people doesn't get the best deal, as a study by the Financial Conduct Authority discovered this week, then there's clearly something terribly wrong.
Or as the FCA chief Martin Wheatley put it, the annuity market is "disorderly".
Part of the problem is that the process of buying an annuity, which gives people an income in retirement, only becomes interesting and important to most people when they are forced to make a decision.
The fact that it is as major a financial decision as buying a house and will affect us all means everyone should be horrified by pension company failures with annuities.
An annuity buys a pension income for life. So choosing the wrong one, especially that offered by your pension provider, could cost you thousands of pounds.
For that reason we should all get involved in the annuity debate and force the industry to urgently fix things. The solution is for there to be an independent government-backed annuity service that ensures people do achieve their best option in retirement. It should be linked to advice so that we all understand the choices we have and the implications of going down one route rather than another.
Around half a million people retire each year and the longer we delay getting to a decent annuity process, the more people will be disadvantaged. And that's a unfairness that we should not allow to continue.
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