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Bright Grey goes live

Bright Grey, Royal London&#39s protection arm, is accepting business from this week in a staggered launch which sees it going live first to users of the Assureweb portal.

Products will be available on The Exchange in a week&#39s time and will be rolled out gradually to other IFAs.

The launch comes 18 months after Royal London first announced plans to break into the market in September 2001. The provider says it is placing IFA service at the core of its proposition in an attempt to stand apart from existing players.

It is aiming for five-day turn-round for applications, which it claims is substantially faster than many rival providers.

Its menu-based product range will include life, critical-illness, income protection, and waiver-of-premium cover.

Income protection will be its main focus and it will offer cover for accident and sickness as well as unemployment. There is an option to automatically transfer to long-term care cover on retirement or when the initial policy expires.

Critical-illness cover will only be available with reviewable premiums as Bright Grey says it can reduce premiums by up to 30 or 40 per cent by not offering guarantees.

Chief executive David Robinson says: “Our focus on getting service right will reduce the cost of selling protection for IFAs because better service means less time spent chasing paperwork and more time spent advising clients and writing new business.”

John Joseph Financial Services director John Joseph says: “If you hang your hat on something, you have got to be good. They must be very confident about their service, which is good to see, but I will hesitate from giving them a gold star until I see it for myself.&#39

Only one-third of funds in the core equity sectors have outperformed their indices over the last three years, according to data from Standard & Poor&#39s.

Just 60 of the 204 funds offered by the UK&#39s top fund managers in the UK all companies, Europe ex-UK, North America, global growth, Far East ex-Japan and Japan sectors beat their respective indices from March 2000 to March 2003.

Only 33 funds managed to outperform their index by more than 5 per cent while 20 outperformed by more than 10 per cent.

In contrast, 66 per cent of funds in the three years to March 2000 beat their index, with more than 55 per cent outperforming by more than 5 per cent.

The best performer in the bear market has been Investec, with seven of its 11 funds outperforming their respective indices in the three years to March 2003.

One of the worst performers has been Threadneedle, which has just two funds out of 11 which have outperformed their indices, neither by more than 5 per cent. But in the three years to March 2000, all its funds beat their indices, with 80 per cent outperforming by more than 5 per cent.

Edinburgh Fund Managers, Gartmore and Framlington have also suffered dramatic reversals.

Threadneedle communications director Richard Eats says: “In the three years to 2000 we were overweight in TMT before going defensive early on. Since then we have performed strongly against our competitors but have underperformed of late because we have holdings in large companies.”

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