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SASS with Standard Life

STANDARD LIFE – Small Self-Administered Scheme

Type: Small Self-Administered Scheme.

Minimum investment: £416.67 a month first member, £208.33 a
month average for additional members.

Investment choice: Standard Life funds – sterling one, fixed interest
one, property one, protection one, structured one, index-linked one,
managed one, ethical one, international one, stock exchange one,
Far East one, European one, Japanese one, North American one,
Pacific Basin one, UK equity one, tracker one, with-profits one, global
selector, UK smaller companies. Eight funds from Deutsche, Fidelity,
Gartmore, Threadneedle.

Charges: Annual 1 per cent.

Allocation rates: 100 per cent.

Commission: 0.16 per cent fund based, 0.2 per cent accelerated fund
based, or 2 per cent level.

Contact: www.ifazone.com.

Broker Panel:-

Keith Jarman – Director, Hughes Carne IFA

Steve Perdisatt – Research manager, Burns-Anderson

Stephen Spencer – Director, Phoenix Financial Services

Broker Ratings:-

Options: 5.3

Flexibility: 6.0

Company&#39s reputation: 8.0

Past performance: 6.7

Charges: 6.0

Commission: 5.0

Product literature: 7.0

Standard Life has introduced its small self-administered scheme,
which gives access to 20 Standard Life fund and has eight external
fund links from Deutsche, Fidelity, Gartmore, Threadneedle.

Looking at how the plan fits into the market, Jarman says: “Standard
Life have rebranded a previous successful scheme, into a well
established market with some strong players offering a high quality
service. The plan will need to prove its worth very quickly.”

Perdisatt thinks it will fit into the insured SSAS market, given that
Standard Life are already an established name in this area.

Spencer says: “A SSAS aimed at the small to large private limited
company director. A fairly standard product when compared to the
competitors. It requires a relatively high insured investment content.”

Identifying the type of company the plan is suitable for, Perdisatt says:
“Directors of small to medium size businesses, willing to make
substantial contributions and a diversified investment portfolio.”

Spencer thinks it will be suitable for mostly medium to large private
companies looking for limited investment and perhaps premises
purchase and loan backs.

Jarman says: “Medium sized companies happy with a part insured
scheme, although Standard Life have the added option of some
external fund links. It is not a suitable plan for a full SSAS client.”

The panel agrees that the Standard Life SASS will not provide many
new marketing opportunities. Spencers says: “No new innovations,
so no new marketing opportunities other than to existing Standard
Life executive pension plan holders.”

Jarman thinks its not a product for mass marketing, but one to bear
in mind for corporate prospects and small businesses on the rise.

Perdisatt says: “The SASS will probably only give a few marketing
opportunities in a crowded market place. Having said that the brand
of Standard Life cannot be underestimated.”

Analysing the main useful features and strong point of the product,
the panel listed Standard Life&#39s name and popularity in the IFA sector,
the absence of early surrender penalties, the ability to convert existing
executive pension plans and the technical support and back up.

Discussing the range of options the plan offers Perdisatt says: “It has
all the features traditionally associated with this type of arrangement.”
Jarman says: “Overall they are reasonable for the potential market.”

Spencer thinks they are limited because of the requirement for
insured funds but pretty standard other than that. Most options are
governed by Inland Revenue limits.

Jarman thinks the plan&#39s disadvantages are the need for relatively
high insured content and that Standard Life is not perceived by the
general public as a SSAS company, they are seen as an individual or
private client company.

Perdisatt says: “The minimum contributions are high, which could be
off putting for some companies. The insistence on high minimum
premiums to insured funds is a drawback, it rather detracts from the
freedom that a SSAS should all be about.”

Drawbacks Spencer lists are the high fund switching charges and
the high insured investment required. He says: “The charges are
higher if the insured investment is lower than the minimum. It&#39s not
ideal for an experienced investor who wants to use the full investment
powers of a SSAS.”

Turning to the flexibility offered by the plan, Jarman highlights that
often Revenue rules override the flexibility, he says: “So generally the
scheme looks good.”

Spencers says: “The plan has reasonable flexibility subject to funding
restrictions and limited flexibility because of insured funds
requirement. The plan has standard SASS rules re investment
choice.”

Perdisatt says: “Not particularly flexible given the high minimum
insured premiums. There are other products readily available offering
full SASS flexibility.”

Commenting on Standard Life&#39s reputation Spencer think it is
excellent overall.

Jarman says: “One of the household names with a generally good
feel with clients. There is little need to sell the company to clients.”

Perdisatt says: “Standard Life have a good reputation for service and
support which is very much in its favour, though much will depend on
James Hay.”

Turning to Standard Life&#39s past performance record, Perdisatt says:
“Solid rather than spectacular. Will appeal to those willing to invest in
Standard Life funds and make use of other SASS investments, such
as commercial property.”

Jarman says: “Ok, not breaking records currently but doing alright, the
external fund links may help to boost sales.” Spencer thinks they
have steady above average performance.

Looking at which SASSs they see providing the main competition the
panel mention Norwich Union, Axa Sun Life, James Hay and
Winterthur. Perdisatt says: “There could also be some competition
from the full SASS providers.”

Jarman thinks the charges are fair and reasonable, he says: “They
are quite competitive.”

Spencer says: “The charges are designed to encourage insured
investment which may restrict investment options.”

Perdisatt says: “They are fair and reasonable within the context of the
insured SASS market. I do not like the imposition of extra charges
when insured premiums fall below a certain level, they are not
transparent and look high.”

Turning to the commission Spencer indicates that he usually charge
fees for SASS work because it can include a great deal if work.

Jarman agrees with this, he goes on to say: “The commission
payable is fair and reasonable.”

Examining the product literature the panel is complementary,
Perdisatt says: “It is very well put together and presented, it is easy to
read and to understand.” Jarman says: “Very good, informative and
easy to read.”

Spencer says: “The SASS guide is good quality using good quality
paper, whereas the remaining literature is Standard Life typical
literature. Good, well laid out and easy to understand. It has a
modular approach so you can give only relevant information.”

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