Further QE 'bad news' for retirees

Pensioners on a benchFurther quantitative easing (QE) is likely to spell bad news for people set to retire this year, analysts have warned.

Those planning to buy an annuity, which sets the size of their pension for life, were advised to "get on with it", with downward pressures on rates expected to continue in 2012.
Annuity investors have seen rates plummet in recent years, as pensioners have faced a "perfect storm" of high living costs and low returns on their savings.

Research from financial services company Hargreaves Lansdown found that a 65-year-old man with £100,000 could have bought a level income of £7,855 in July 2008, but someone in the same situation today would only receive an income of £5,923, a drop of just under 25%.

A recent study from Prudential also found that the typical retirement income anticipated for 2012 had hit a five-year low of £15,500, while one in five of those retiring this year expected to have to get by on less than £10,000.

A key factor in the drop was the continued fall in the value of the annual pension that could be bought by a lump sum saved in a private pension fund, or the annuity rate.

This has been put down to people living longer, as well as reductions in the return, or yield, available from buying the government and company bonds needed to provide a guaranteed income in retirement.

QE makes it cheaper for companies to borrow by pushing down the yield on government bonds, but annuity incomes are also based on these yields, meaning new pensioners see their incomes reduced. The policy also impacts on inflation, meaning pensioners can also face higher living costs.
Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown said any announcement of further QE was "likely to be bad news" for investors reaching retirement in 2012.

He said: "If you are planning to buy an annuity this year then it may well make sense to get on with it as all the immediate pressure on rates is downward."

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