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IFAs may have strongest hand

Life offices have found themselves in a hard-fought contest to get on to

stakeholder panels before registration of schemes starts in October.

The prize above all others is Misys, the gateway to 4,000 registered

individuals following its takeover of IFA Network.

Misys is auditioning pension offices for its stakeholder panel. Sources

close to the deal say CGU, Clerical Medical, Scottish Equitable, Scottish

Widows and Friends Provident have made it on to the short list but Standard

Life, Legal & General, Scottish Amicable and Scottish Mutual may miss out.

DBS says it will be filtering companies for its stakeholder panel. The

network says life offices will be included as long as they meet certain

criteria, which it lists as charges, performance, product features and

financial strength.

DBS pensions technical analyst Keeley Paddon says once the market is

flooded with stakeholder products, it will use the criteria to pick the

cream of the crop for its panel. It says only four pensions are currently

stakeholder-compliant and it is waiting for other providers to come up with

their offerings.

Other IFAs are also aware that size matters in the stakeholder market.

National IFA Hambro Fraser Smith says it will be very difficult for pension

offices which do not have large resources to come up with the goods.

The coming months should witness some feverish competition and, for once,

despite warnings about what the 1 per cent charging cap will do to the

market, IFAs appear to have the strongest hand.


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