Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pension Companies and Business Retention

Even though I am short on the full technical details of Irish Life’s ‘New Deal In Pensions’; it looks like they are moving in the right direction with regard to addressing business ‘retention’.

The ‘retention’ issue has become a major problem for pension providers. Business that was ‘new’ to the a pension company 5 years ago (approx) is not staying on their books long enough for them to make money on the transaction. Instead, the business is being moved to a different pension company, who then register this a ‘new’ business to them. And so the cycle continued....

The major reason why this is happening is a symptom of the way in which pension companies remunerate advisors. A large chunk of commission is paid up-front which is normally conditional on the business staying with the pension company for 5 years, otherwise some/all of this payment would be clawed back by the pension company.

It has taken a while for pension providers to fess up to this. The move by Irish Life, which spreads and increases remuneration, is an attempt to stem the flow of business away from them so as to build a sustainable business model.

The bar has been set fairly high by Irish Life and it will be interesting to see how their competitors react to this strategic move. A rough estimate, on the figures to hand, would indicate that the break-even for Irish Life on the new structure has been pushed out to year 10+. A competitor would need fairly deep pockets to top that.

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