Scottish Equitable International has established the flexible investment plan, a unit-linked offshore investment plan that provides access to 44 funds.
Unlike the majority of unit-linked products that are structured as single-premium bonds, this product accepts regular contributions of at least £500 a month as well as single premiums of at least £5,000. Investors can start and stop premiums when they like but at least £10,00 must remain invested.
The product has been designed to help clients with retirement planning as it is more flexible than a pension, which restricts how much can be invested and when benefits can be taken.
Scottish Equitable International is targeting the product at five areas of the market. Firstly in the company pension top-ups arena, where an employer may want to provide extra retirement benefits for key staff without restrictions that apply to pensions such as the salary cap.
People who are working abroad on a series of short-term contracts with company subsidiaries may not be eligible for a company pension scheme and this is another target market. Clients retiring abroad, high-net-worth clients and those who are concerned with inheritance tax planning are the other markets Scottish Equitable International has highlighted.
The fund range is risk-graded, so investors can choose from the lowest-risk cash funds through to the highest risk Japanese and Pacific equity funds. External managers include Baillie Gifford, DWS, Newton and Lazard. Investors can make up to 12 free fund switches but will have to pay 1 per cent or £25 thereafter.
This product has a good range of fund links and could have appeal for the areas of the market outlined by Scottish Equitable International. The ability to make regular contributions instead of the usual single premium makes it stand out from other offshore unit-linked offerings. However, its offshore status may make it more appealing to people working or retiring abroad as people in the UK may prefer to invest onshore.