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Scepticism over stakeholder sales

The first figures for stakeholder sales have been greeted with scepticism, with the industry claiming they tell very little about the true picture of whether the scheme is a success and meeting Government expectations.

ABI data shows that 224,506 stakeholder plans have been sold between April and June while only 22 per cent, or 88,394, of the 400,000 companies with five or more employees have made stakeholder schemes available.

Somewhat surprisingly, Building & Civil Engineering Insurance has taken more than 60 per cent of the market, selling 137,413 policies. However, the company says the vast majority of its policies have been transfers from existing schemes.

Life offices also claim it is difficult to gauge how many companies still have to set up a scheme because many may already have occupational sch-emes set up which meet stakeholder requirements.

They say it is impossible to draw conclusions from the data because total sales of pensions for the second quarter, including personal and occupational pensions, are not yet available.

IFAs also point out that the figures are not a true reflection of the market as a large number of shell schemes are being set up offering access but with neither employers or employees contributing.

Wentworth Rose managing director Philip Rose says: “Certainly, the reaction among the public is that of total bewilderment about stakeholder. A vast number are being bought by wealthy people using stakeholder as a tax planning exercise.”

Scottish Life director of communications Alasdair Buchanan says: “None of the figures gives any evidence that the Government&#39s stated objective is being achieved. But anecdotal evidence suggests there is quite a long way to go before stakeholder could be deemed a success.”

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Born: Bicester, Oxfordshire,June 8, 1957 Lives: Pimlico, London with wife, no children. Age: 44. Education: Administration degree at University of Aston, Birmingham. Career: 1978-82: trainee chartered accountant at KPMG, 1982-83: tutor at Financial Training, 1983-85: group accountant at Standard Chart-ered, 1985-88: group financial director at SGL Communications, 1988-94: management consultant at Pricewaterhousecoopers, 1995-96: finance director […]

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