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Hartford goes for gold

Hartford Life

Hartford Gold Flexible Investment Bond

Type: Unit-linked bond

Aim: Growth and income by investing in choice of five Gold portfolios or self-select range of 37 investment funds

Minimum investment: Lump sum 5,000

Fund links: Choice of income, rising income, cautious managed, growth and adventurous growth portfolios or 37 funds from Barclays Global Investors, Fidelity, Invesco Perpetual, Investec, New Star and Schroders

Allocation rate: 100%

Switches: Up to 12 free switches a year

Options: Hartford safetynet option ensuring investors get back the total amount invested through withdrawals

Charges: Annual 0.85% plus annual 0.97%-1.66% for portfolios, annual 0.35% to 2.14% for self-select option depending on fund, annual 0.5% for safetynet option

Commission: Subject to negotiation

Tel: 0800 028 7272

The Hartford is a US-based provider of unit-linked bonds to countries including Brazil and Japan. It has now established the gold flexible investment bond for the UK market, which provides access to five
ready-made portfolios and a self-select range of 37 investment funds from fund management groups.

Michael Philips proprietor Michael Both regards the Hartford safetynet option, whereby an investor seeking income is guaranteed at least their original investment, as mildly intriguing.

However, he is not overly impressed with the product. “It is difficult to find many unique features which an investor could not find from many other well established insurance bond providers,” he complains.

Both thinks the Hartford products fund range is narrow and uninspired. “The way that the investment guide breaks down a contribution to a gold portfolio into sub-fund components is guaranteed to alarm the investor,” he says.

Both finds the absence of any major US fund managers other than Fidelity surprising. Although he concedes several of the funds available may be very good, he points out that they have all been readily available elsewhere. “So why risk a new product provider when we know how good the existing ones are?” he asks.

According to Both, competition will be provided by almost every insurance bond from providers who distribute through IFAs.

He concludes: “Why is the Hartford bothering to launch this product in the UK now? This doesnt look like an IFA product, although it might appeal to a tied sales force in the post-polarisation world.”


Suitability to market: Poor
Flexibility: Poor
Charges: Good
Adviser remuneration: Average

Overall 4/10


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