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Standard accused of pushing high-charging pensions

Rival life offices have slammed Standard Life for encouraging IFAs to sell higher-commission-paying individual and group pension plans ahead of the onset of stakeholder.

They claim the move will cost existing members millions of pounds as Standard attempts to buy market share.

The allegations come from senior life office representatives who believe Standard is encouraging IFAs to sell higher-charging and commission-paying pensions, instead of its lower-charging stakeholder-friendly plans, ahead of its new low charging structure due for launch in April 2001.

A number of life offices have called Money Marketing claiming the move is irresponsible and will effectively involve passing on significant amounts of with-profits members&#39 cash to IFAs in the form of higher commission.

Standard grabbed the headlines last month by unveiling plans to slash charges on individual and group plans by typically 0.6 to 0.8 per cent from the existing 1.4 per cent annual management charge.

One source told Money Marketing: “We know Standard&#39s party line is to encourage IFAs to do as much business on the higher-charging GPP and take as much commission as possible ahead of the lower-charging structure.

“It is a retrograde and irresponsible step leaving Standard members picking up the tab. This sends out a disconcerting message from the industry and will cost members millions.”

Standard refutes the claims from its competitors. Assistant general manager (marketing) Graham Storrie says: “This is not about buying market share, it is about giving IFAs eight weeks to complete the sales process before we close the book on the existing charging structure.

“It is not a buy-now-while-stocks-last situation, this is a customer-driven initiative. The move will have minimal impact on our members.”

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