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Friends ups the stakes

Friends Provident is jostling for position in the pre-stakeholder market with a new individual stakeholder-friendly pension plan.

The New Generation scheme has no set-up or surrender charges and no policy fee for bid/offer spread charges. In keeping with stakeholder criteria, the only charge to investors is the 1 per cent annual charge.

The life office joins a number of other major providers which have released their own pre-stakeholder plans such as Scottish Widows and fund manager Schroders.

Processing for the New Generation pension will be carried out over the internet, which Friends Provident says will dramatically cut down on the application process.

Other features of the product include a minimum £50 contribution, free fund switches and optional waiver of premium for plans set up before April 6.

Friends Provident was one of the earliest offices to launch a stakeholder-friendly product when it set up an affinity scheme with the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union in September 1999.

This latest initiative will be the first time the life office moves away from affinity group-based plans and into the individual market.

Friends Provident managing director of retail operations Ben Gunn says: “We are committed to ensuring that we support IFAs as we move into the stakeholder pension environment.

“We are widely recognised as being a market leader in the provision of stakeholder-friendly pensions and this announcement reinforces our intention to be at the very forefront of this market.”

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