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Scottish Widows stakes its claim on pension market

SCOTTISH WIDOWS

Stakeholder Pension Plan

Type: Group stakeholder pension.

Minimum premium: Monthly £20.

Minimum group size: 2.

Minimum-maximum ages: 18-75.

Fund links: Consensus, all share tracker, fixed interest tracker, mixed, safety plus,

European, UK equity, fixed interest, property, North American, Japanese,

environmental, global equity, cash, Newton balanced managed, Merrill Lynch

balanced managed, Schroders balanced managed.

Charges: Annual 0.64-1 per cent.

Allocation rates: 100 per cent.

Minimum term: No minimum.

Commission: Initial 0-45 per cent of Lautro, level 0-4 per cent, fund based renewal

0-0.36 per cent.

Tel: 0845 8432888.

Brian Pack, principal, Brian Pack Financial Services, Scott Pickard, director, Philip Milton & Co, Steve Perdisatt, research manager, Burns-Anderson.

Options 6.3

Flexibility 7.3

Company’s reputation 7.0

Past performance 6.0

Charges 6.0

Commission 6.3

Product literature 7.6

In the run up to April and the new stakeholder regime, Scottish Widows has introduced a stakeholder-compliant group pension plan.

Looking at how the plan fits into the market, Perdisatt says: "This is one more plan that is broadly similar to other offerings in the market already. With the exception of perhaps the three external fund links available with it, I see not a lot to differentiate it from, or improve on, the other stakeholder plans already available."

Pack says: "This plan should fit in very well, but until stakeholder gets under way we are still looking at an unknown marketplace. We will have to wait and see until then."

Pickard says: "The Scottish Widows plan is broadly similar to the products already launched, although the previously established ones will allow schemes to be set up now on a group pension plan basis, in some cases with a straightforward transition to stakeholder when it starts."

Moving on to the type of company that the product is suitable for, Pack and Pickard both feel that the plan is for most small companies which are likely to need to install a stakeholder scheme.

Perdisatt adds: "The plan seems to be aimed at the smaller to medium size employer who will have a statutory responsibility as a result of stakeholder, ie: at the moment they have no provision or insufficient provision for a pension scheme. It may also attract some business from fee paying clients."

Examining the range of marketing opportunities that the plan will provide, the panel are divided. Perdisatt says: "The plan seems very similar to other recently introduced offerings and as a result I am not convinced that it offers any distinct marketing opportunities."

However Pickard says: "This offers good opportunities to market it to larger firms, perhaps due to the supporting CD-Rom, but also to its user friendliness, which might also make it attractive to smaller businesses."

Pack adds: "I think that the Scottish Widows pension will be useful as part of a marketing plan."

Moving to the strong points of the plan, Pack says: "The mixture of funds offered is very good indeed. The plan also has good commission flexibility."

Pickard says: "The main strong point is the fact that it offers a wide choice of funds, including external fund links to Newton, Merrill Lynch and Schroders. Other good features include the online access for simpler and more cost effective administration and a good information pack, which will be employer friendly and which will improve take-up."

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