Our new rep from Standard Life (late of Royal & Sun Alliance) came to see us last month.
He wanted to bang his drum about how Standard Life have tinkered around with their personal pension contract so that they can now pay us in commission just over half what they did prior to stakeholder. On new cases, that is – always the holy grail of the life company rep.
But, I asked, what about the many personal pension policies we wrote with Standard Life back in the 1990s, on which you have completely shafted us by changing their charging structure without prior warning, let alone negotiation?
Ah well, came the familiar bleat. Legal & General said they could do the 1 per cent thing so we had to follow suit.
Cobblers. Skandia did not follow L&G and they are writing probably more individual pension business than any other life company the length and breadth of the land.
Anyway, how much would Standard Life pay us on a top-up to an existing policy of, say, £20 net a month? A week or so later, the answer came back – about £68.
What? Are you saying that for reviewing our file, contacting the client, visiting him, completing a new factfind and all the necessary forms for the top-up itself, then writing him a letter confirming the advice given. Plus, of course, the time taken by my admin staff to process and record the top-up, not to mention getting it processed satisfactorily through Standard Life's own systems (the last one we did was a nightmare, still ongoing), the sum total of what you will pay is £68?
Another week went by. It seems that with a bit of jiggery pokery they can restructure some (but not all) of the existing policies on our books to incorporate an AMC of 1.3 per cent and pay us nearly twice £68.
But even that scale would not be enough to cover our costs in writing any but the most sizeable top-ups. And just which policies anyway? On that, a reply is still awaited, two weeks later.
I think our new man from Standard Life has given up on me as a tougher prospect than he had been expecting.
WDS Independent Advisers, Bristol