Wilkins says: “Reasonably limited, although the investment strategies give a broad brush approach to risk attitude. Up to six investment portfolio changes each year would be more than enough for even the most discerning of clients.”
Jarman says there is a reasonable cross section, but that it lacks scope outside UK denominated funds unless the client uses self management. He also says that Prudential's with-profits is a strong market leader.
Harford is more enthusiastic, saying: “Excellent choice of funds available, excellent fund managers.”
Quinton feels that the options available are adequate for the target audience the plan is aimed at.
When asked to name the plan's disadvantages, Jarman lists: “Complexity to clients, it will confuse some IFAs, there is a danger of over selling to unsophisticated clients.”
Quinton also mentions the complexity of the plan, and continues: “It lacks single to joint life switching that Canada Life's product offers.”
Harford feels that there are no apparent disadvantages within the plan.
Wilkins says: “Limited fund choice and the fact that death benefits are income – not fund related.”
The opinion of the panel concerning the flexibility offered by the plan varies. Harford calls it excellent, Jarman calls it very good and Quinton calls it good.
Wilkins says: “Much more flexible than conventional annuities. Perhaps less flexible than drawdown but offering flexibility after age 75 is something that no other annuity currently offers.”
Moving on to Prudential's reputation, Harford says that it has improved vastly in the last 12 months.
Wilkins says: “The Prudential is renowned as being a market leader in the world of annuities and its link up with Scottish Amicable adds extra financial strength to what was already a strong company.
Jarman simply says: “Generally very good, well known name, good track record.”
Quinton says Prudential is now a recognised leader of annuity products.
Turning to Prudential's past performance record, Wilkins says: “Excellent with-profits past performance and with the link with M&G, very good past equity performance as well.”
Quinton says: “When using its with-profits annuity as a benchmark, it has stacked up well.”
Harford calls it chequered but improving. Jarman says: “Generally very good.”
When asked to name which plans will provide the main competition, the panel has a mixed opinion.
Harford says: “Britannic solutions and Eagle star drawdown.” Quinton mentions Canada Life and Standard Life. Jarman identifies Skandia and Merchant Investors.
Wilkins says there is no direct competition, as other plans provide drawdown, but do not provide the same flexiblity at age 75 as the Prudential plan.
Considering whether the charges are fair and reasonable, Quinton says: “They can always be improved on.” Jarman says: “Yes, you get what you pay for.”
Wilkins believes: “The annual management charges from some of the funds are very low, especially the M&G ones. I would however like to see slightly higher allocation rates.”
The panel are slightly less enthusiastic when asked about the commission paid by the plan.
Wilkins says: “Better than conventional annuities, but not as good as drawdown, so I suppose you could say that was fair.” Quinton feels that the commission can be improved on.
Moving on to the product literature, Harford calls it very good. Quinton says: “A good attempt to simplify a complex product.” Jarman calls it: “Very impressive, quality feel and look, well written, easy to read.” Wilkins says: “I haven't tried it out on a client yet, but I found it quite user friendly.”
Summing up, Wilkins says: “This is one of the most exciting products to come out of an insurance company for years. So good in fact that every client in drawdown should be informed about it.”