As one of the biggest players in the market, it is worth taking note of Standard life (if only in the same way that it is hard to ignore a goat in your bathroom). Their product design and development will continue to be a benchmark for the retail pension market and a strong indicator of where the market is likely to find its level.
As of this month, Stan dard have enhanced and refined the commission terms they can offer on their individual and group pensions under their mono-charge structure.
Initial commission remains an option at a rate of 30 per cent of Lautro scale plus uplift. Clawback of commission will be applied to these terms if the contract is varied and, in view of Standard's relatively unexciting investment performance, this must remain an area of concern.
Alternatively, an adviser has the option of level or fund-based commission. If the fund-based commission is selected, then it can be paid on an accelerated basis, effectively giving the IFA the next 10 years' income in one hit upfront. This is okay, provided the client does not move the money within the next 10 years.
Lifestyling options are available although at present there is no scope to specify which funds are used. You simply have to follow one of three set formulae. External fund links will probably arrive next year. Standard are currently negotiating with around 10 investment houses to see what terms can be agreed.
This is a Groundhog Day product – nothing you have not seen before and tomorrow's answers will probably be more refined. It is important because, unlike some of their smaller competitors, Standard are likely to survive the next few years. For IFAs, Standard's terms show the reality of production line pensions in this brave new stakeholder world.