Partnership hit by annuity plan as sales tumble

ANNUITY provider Partnership Assurance has seen sales of its products tumble in the first quarter of the year, after the chancellor announced sweeping changes to the pensions market in his Budget in March.

The group sold £200m worth of individual annuities in the first three months of the year, its bread and butter, compared to £357m in the first quarter of 2013.

In a statement yesterday the company said George Osborne’s plan to free people from having to buy an annuity on retirement had caused “significant disruption” within Partnership’s core market, adding that the company had frozen recruitment, cut back on contractors and put the chief financial officer in charge of approving all spending decisions.

“Since the Budget, we have seen quote volumes at approximately 50 per cent of the pre-Budget level,” chief executive Steve Groves said.

He added that defined benefit bulk sales, which represented £34m of underwritten business in the first quarter, compared to £2m the year before, would be difficult to predict in the long term. The board was “confident that Partnership is able to face the challenges ahead and capitalise on the opportunities presented by this changing market.”

The company has formed a team of experts to look at whether expanding into the US market would be an attractive next step. It is also developing new products in the UK.