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Cofunds set to offer its own pension

Cofunds is to offer its own pension and is creating an investment service to give advisers fund selection guidance.

The pension wrapper will launch next year and compete directly with product providers, including Legal & General, which owns 25 per cent of the platform.

The news comes as this week’s Money Marketing also reveals Cof­unds’ plans to raise its fund group charges, with smaller funds set to be hit hardest by the increases.

Cofunds says its pension will be a mid-market offering, possibly a deferred Sipp, although details are yet to be finalised.

The company currently offers an L&G Sipp and personal pension on its platform, along with the Sippcentre Sipp and Suffolk Life’s MasterSipp.

It has not ruled out adding more options.

Cofunds is also developing a retirement planning tool and launching a pension technical helpdesk with Technical Connection.

The platform’s guided fund selection service, which will be run in partnership
with Old Broad Street Res­earch, will offer seven different risk profiles, each containing a list of funds. The funds cover all sectors, including multi-manager and cash.

There will be no set minimum or maximum number of funds in each category, with selection based on investment quality and criteria set out by Old Broad Street Res­earch. Changes will be overseen by an independent investment committee.

Cofunds intends to relaunch its marketing programme for fund groups in 2010. The programme, started this year, will see 15-20 companies pay around £60,000 each in return for preferential marketing.

The firm stresses that groups which sign up to the marketing service are in no way ensured a place in the guided architecture process.

Director fund manager relationships Russell Lancaster says the platform is aiming to bec­ome a distribution, marketing and financial planning business but will not be offering advice.

He says: “We have no intention of providing advice, becoming an adviser ourselves or turning into a business-to-consumer proposition. Our job is to service IFAs and to give them the tools that they need to do their job.”

Business consultant Stan Kirk says: “It sounds like Cofunds is trying to become a life insurance company just as they start to die out. I am not sure that this new business model is what the IFA is looking for.”

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