Consumer confidence in the UK financial services industry may not be moving as quickly as anticipated, according to new business figures from the Association of British Insurers.
According to ABI’s annual business figures for 2003 published yesterday, recent stock market rises have encouraged investors to make their ways back to the market, as new business figures for regular and single premium sales improved during the last quarter of 2003.
However, ABI's upbeat forecast could be questioned as latest data for new business is still lower than figures released for the same period a year earlier.
More people invested in a retirement package in the last three months of 2003 than in the beginning of the year, with new individual regular and new individual single premiums pensions business rising to £460m and £2,617m respectively compared with £442 and £2,276m in the first quarter.
IFAs sold the main bulk of pension products. Out of the new regular individual pensions premiums sold in the final quarter 81.4% were distributed by advisers. Furthermore, 77.6% of the group regular premiums – including defined benefits, defined contributions and group critical illness - were sold via IFAs.
Chris Kenny, head of Life and Pensions at the ABI, says: “The last quarter of 2003 showed some definite and encouraging signs of improvement. Both Individual regular and single premium business increased in the last 3 months of 2003 compared with third quarter, as did group business.”
The positive upturn of Q4 shows a significant change in the attitudes of our customers. The challenge for 2004 is for the Government and the savings industry to build on these first signs of recovery,” he adds.
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