Review of Retirement Line

Written by Karen Bryan

retirementlineAs my husband had received the highest quote for an annuity from Retirement Line (previously known as Annuity Line) when buying an annuity, I decided that I’d definitely be contacting them when the time came for me to look at pension income options.

As I’d already consulted with an online independent financial adviser and done a lot of personal research, I was happy to use a non-advised broker such as Retirement Line.

There was an additional incentive to try Retirement Line, as my husband was told that if he recommended their services to a family member or friend who proceeded to purchase their annuity through Retirement Line, then both he and the referee would receive £75 worth of M&S vouchers.

You could earn £75 in M&S vouchers if you quote my client ref 138927 when you contact Retirement Line, either by phone 0800 652 1316 or for by email info (at) retirementline.co.uk to get a free, no obligation quote and then go on to buy your annuity through them. This is subject to annuity purchase funds of £18,000+. I will also receive £75 in vouchers as a referrer.

annuity line M&S vouchers

I’d decided that even with the changes to accessing a personal pension in the March 2014 Budget, I would nevertheless proceed with the purchase of an annuity. I believed that there was a possibility that annuity rates would drop in response to this change.

Therefore, I wanted to buy an annuity as soon as possible after my 50th birthday in mid April 2014. I was aware of the forthcoming Easter Holiday weekend and that we’d be departing on a five-day trip to Budapest and Prague on Easter Sunday.

I phoned Retirement Line a few days before my birthday to get a quote. The advisor said that she’d need to put that date that day as my date of birth in order to get a quote. Then, if I decided to proceed, my date of birth would be amended to the correct date.

Retirement Line came up with a quote from Partnership Assurance that was significantly higher than any other quotes I’d received. Retirement Line’s 1.3% commission was stated in the quotation, having already been deducted when the quote was calculated.

The day after my birthday, I asked Retirement Line to proceed with the quote from Partnership, which had a 28 day rate guarantee.

At the stage it all rather went to pot. I was hoping to receive all the forms to complete and return to Retirement Line before we left on holiday on Easter Sunday. However, the forms which I received from Retirement Line all had the incorrect date of birth from the initial quote a few days prior to my birthday.

Between the Easter weekend and us going away, there was a delay in getting the amended forms back to Retirement Line.

By this stage, I was feeling a bit apprehensive about meeting the 28 day deadline of the annuity provider receiving all the paperwork and the transfers from my two pension pot holders, Standard Life and Aviva.

I was correct to feel this way.

Seven working days before the expiry of the annuity rate guarantee, I had an email from Retirement Line, informing me the funds from Standard Life had been received by Partnership, but that Aviva had sent the funds that day by BACS transfer, which can take up to five working days. I thought that the deadline would be comfortably met.

Two days later, Retirement Line phoned me to say that the BACS transfer from Aviva had been initiated that day. I thought as long as it arrives within the five-day period, it’ll  make it in time. However, that was far too tight for my liking.

I contacted Aviva by phone and email to complain.

The following day, the day before the expiry of the annuity rate guarantee, Aviva phoned me to inform me that the annuity provider had received the transfer. Within a few minutes, this was confirmed by email by Retirement Line.

It was all rather nerve-racking and made me think that there should be an industry-wide mandatory maximum time for the transfer of pension pots to annuity providers, with financial penalties for firms who don’t meet this time frame.

I received my first pension payment from Partnership Assurance on 6 June 2014.  I contacted Retirement Line to request that they send my husband and I our £75 worth of M&S vouchers. I hadn’t noticed the small print stating that you should allow 30 days post completion of the annuity purchase to receive the vouchers. I’d assumed that the vouchers would be included in the confirmation of purchase letter I received from Retirement Line on 29 May 2014.  Our vouchers arrived by Special Delivery on the 27 June 2014.

Overall, I was very happy with Retirement Line; they found me the highest paying annuity, they alerted me to the fact that Aviva was dragging its heels in transferring the pension pot to Partnership Assurance and the £75 of M&S vouchers was a nice bonus. There was a niggle, with the wrong date of birth on the paperwork, but that was exacerbated by the Bank Holidays and our trip abroad.

My Tips for Buying an Annuity

Based on my experience with Retirement Line I’d recommend that you:

  1. Don’t buy your annuity during a period with several bank holidays. Good Friday, Easter Monday and the May Bank Holiday all fell during the time when I was buying an annuity.
  2. Don’t plan any trips when your annuity is being processed. Although I was accessing my emails and could make phone calls to the UK using Vodafone Euro Traveller, I couldn’t sign and return forms.
  3. Don’t get any quotes before your 55th birthday, to avoid any confusion over your actual date of birth.

You could earn £75 in M&S vouchers if you quote my client ref 138927 when you contact Retirement Line, either by phone 0800 652 1316 or for by email info (at) retirementline.co.uk to get a free, no obligation quote and then go on to buy your annuity through them. This is subject to annuity purchase funds of £18,000+. I will also receive £75 in vouchers as a referrer.