The Open Market Option
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Shopping Around For A Higher Income - The Open Market Option

You can get more from a pension annuity if you shop around.

The Open Market Option was introduced as part of the 1975 UK Finance Act and allows those approaching retirement to shop around for a number of options to convert their pension pot into an annuity, rather than simply taking the default annuity rate offered by their existing pension provider.

To make the most of the Open Market Option it's important to speak to us first. We will explain the different annuity options available.

But what actually is a Pension Annuity?

An annuity is an arrangement where you make a lump-sum investment. From this investment you receive a guaranteed level of income. Most pension annuities are bought using funds held in money purchase pension schemes.

In other words, an annuity converts a savings fund into income and that income will be paid to you for the rest of your life.

Pension Types?
You can buy an annuity if you've
one of the following pension types:

1. Personal Pensions
2. Stakeholder Pensions
3. Most Additional Voluntary Contribution
Schemes (AVCs)
4. Free Standing AVCs (FSAVCs)
5. Retirement Annuity Contract (RACs)
6. Occupational Money Purchase Schemes
7. Section 32 Policy (Buy Out Bond)

An annuity is payable for your lifetime, although it's possible to select a fixed period if purchasing an annuity with cash as opposed to pension funds.

Examples of these types of "Compulsory Purchase Annuity" are conventional annuities, with profit annuities and unit linked, or third way annuities. Annuities that are purchased from savings, not from a pension scheme are referred to as Purchased Life Annuities and Immediate Vesting Annuities.

When your pension fund reaches maturity, your pension provider will advise you of the fund value, and general information about annuities including the level of annuity income you would receive.

You're then entitled to use your Open Market Option. This allows you to transfer the fund value to another annuity provider of your choice, thus enabling you to take advantage of a higher annuity income which may be available from a different provider.

You are normally entitled to take up to 25% of your pension fund as tax-free cash.


Your Pension Annuity From?
AXA Sun Life
British Life
Canada Life
Clerical Medical
Friends Provident
GE Life
Legal & General
Just Retirement
MGM
Norwich Union
Partnership
Pensions Annuity FS
Prudential
Scottish Widows
Standard Life



Converting Pensions From?
Abbey Life
Aegon
Allied Dunbar
AXA Sun Life
Barclays
Canada Life
Clerical Medical
Countrywide Assured
Eagle Star
Equitable Life
Friends Provident
Halifax
Legal and General
National Westminster
Prudential
Scottish Equitable
Scottish Life
Scottish Mutual
Scottish Widows
Skandia
Standard Life
Windsor Life
Winterthur
Zurich
and many others



Types of Annuity

There are a wide range of options which can be selected when choosing an annuity scheme. Widely used pension annuity options include the following.

Minimum Term

The income is guaranteed to be paid until the death of the annuity holder, but it can also be modified to include any of the following options:

• 5-year guarantee - annuity ceases at death of annuity holder, or after 5 years, whichever is the longer
• 10-year guarantee - annuity ceases at death of annuity holder, or after 10 years, whichever is the longer
• Joint life annuity - annuity ceases on the death of the second of two named annuity holders

Escalation

Your annuity can either be paid at a fixed level or you can include an escalation at 3%, 5%, or at the % RPI (annual increase in retail price index). Thus you can choose to compensate for inflationary effects on your annuity income. However, your initial income level will be reduced if you choose escalation. Spouse benefits

Your spouse, partner or financial dependants can be protected after your death by choosing one of the following options:

• Reduction to half benefit,
• reduction to two thirds benefit or
• full benefit

Thus your annuity is adjusted to the new level at the death of the annuity holder or at the end of the guarantee period (if selected), and continues until the death of your spouse, partner or financial dependants.

In other words, after your die, the annual income paid to your spouse, partner or financial dependants will be a proportion of the annual income you were getting just before your death. The proportion has to be chosen at the time when you take out your annuity. It can be, for example, 100%, 66% or 50% of your annuity at your time of death. A higher proportion will have a higher cost, therefore your annuity income will be lower.

Here is a selection of your possible annuity providers...

legal-and-generalliverpool-victoriajust-retirementmgm-annuitiesavivacanada-lifeaxaprudentialscottish-widowspartnership-annuities

Income Drawdown/Pension Release

As an alternative to an immediate annuity purchase, you can choose to release your pension funds using income drawdown .

Income drawdown lets you control your own income instead of getting a regular, set sum from an annuity provider.

You are able to access your full retirement savings and invest and withdraw money as you wish, instead of being tied to an annuity.

With income drawdown you also retain ownership of your pension fund and can therefore pass remaining funds on when you die.

Using income drawdown as a first option can give you time to make a final decision on how to fund your retirement - for instance you might eventually choose to purchase an annuity at a later date.

Kind Words
Just a small selection of comments we've received from satisfied clients. The original testimonials are available for inspection on request:

"Your attention to detail is superb and you have kept me fully informed of all the transactions"

"This is fabulous! I am so glad I found you!"

"I was extremely impressed with the help and service provided."

"The entire process was handled very quickly and efficiently."

"Many thanks for your high speed response - very impressive."

"Full marks all round. I could not fault your service."

"Thank you for the help you have given me. It has certainly taken the worry out of finalising everything."


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