Standard Life has ditched its existing range of occupational pensions in favour of single charged plans.
The single priced range consists of an executive personal pension (EPP) group plan, group additional voluntary contributions and premier small self-administered scheme (SSAS).
Looking at the EPP in more detail, it provides access to 20 Standard Life funds that cover areas such as the UK equity, European, property, fixed-interest, Far Eastern and ethical funds. There are also eight external fund links from Deutsche, Fidelity, Gartmore and Threadneedle.
EPPs are still a niche product and are often used by directors of small companies and senior employees at large companies who may get a say in their employee benefits packages. Although the market is relatively small, it is unlikely to disappear altogether. This is because EPPs have some advantages over personal pensions and stakeholder schemes. For example, employers can base their contributions on their employee's service to date and contributions can also be backdated.
The Standard Life EPP is more competitive in terms of charges than Skandia's Multipension executive pension, which has an initial charge of 5 per cent and an annual management charge of 0.75 per cent. However, the Skandia product offers an impressive range of 222 external funds which may justify the higher charges if the best performers can be chosen.
According to Standard & Poor's, four Standard Life funds are first quartile, five are second quartile, five are third quartile and two are fourth quartile based on £1,00 invested on a bid-to-bid basis with net income reinvested over three years to February 1, 2002. There is no three-year past performance for the with-profits, global selector, UK smaller companies and structured funds.