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Standard Life to relaunch personal pension

Standard Life is preparing to relaunch a personal pension product to sit alongside its active money Sipp and plans to steal significant market share from main players Aviva, Aegon and Scottish Widows.

Standard Life effectively pulled out of the personal pension market about five years ago when it launched its Sipp. It still has a product but it is not actively marketed and as such its market share has dropped to around 4 per cent.

But the firm believes there are lucrative opportunities to be had. The active money personal pension will launch in February alongside a hefty consumer marketing campaign. It will begin advertising in the trades this week.

The product is aimed at young and successful singles or families aged between 25 and 40 earning over £40,000 a year. The target market will also own their own home with a mortgage and are likely to have at least one child under the age of 15.

The firm says customers will be able to move seamlessly from the personal pension into the Sipp if they choose. The personal pension costs 0.5 per cent and offers more than 150 funds.

Standard Life is also keen to develop a specialist Sipp to compete more fiercely with the specialist Sipp providers. It plans to consult on what this would look like with IFAs although generally it would be targeted to high net worth business owners or professionals in their late 40s, 50s and older.

It will offer complete tax and estate planning services and use a range of professional services. The firm says it is also likely to offer a wider range of investments.

Head of communications Mark Polson says: “As we are coming up to five years since the launch of our Sipp, it seemed a good time to review our pension range generally. After speaking to advisers and customers, we have concluded that it is the right time to stretch our proposition both up and down market.

“The active money personal pension is a low-cost, easy to use plan that can trade up seamlessly to Sipp functionality as and when required. It has been developed with advisers and compliance officers to ensure it meets their needs.

“We never enter a market unless we think we can play a big part in it. It has been five years since we were in the PP space and we think the time is right to rejoin.”


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There are 16 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Standard Life – PPP

  2. Although I like Standard Life as a brand, some of the decisions taken are difficult to follow, not from a profit position but from keeping up relationships. Effectively withdrawing from personal pensions was one. The wind has now changed, someone different is there so let’s go back to PPP’s

    Do you know if you are in a Group PPP/SIPP with Standard Life, although you can transfer protected rights balances to the plan, even if you wanted to you cannot continue to contract out at the same time? The result 2 plans with 2 different charging structures! Another strange decision!

  3. Hmm

    ‘Standard Life is also keen to develop a specialist Sipp to compete more fiercely with the specialist Sipp providers…’

    What a load of rubbish. The SL ‘SIPP’ is not actually a SIPP at all, its a PPP in all but name. Life offices are not interested in having physical property or anything else in their pension wrappers that are not ‘insured funds’ as they do not add to AUM and therefore the ability to cream off AMCs.

    Obviously there is a debate as to what constitutes a ‘SIPP’. If you take it to extremes, then there are about 4 SIPPs in operation in the UK. Hornbuckles have a phrase about allowing anything the HMRC allows. Now no life office is going to do this, given that they operate on a master trust basis so they need to be cautious in the extreme, as a wrong decision could lead to all sorts of aggro for everyone in the master trust.

    So if you want to do something clever in a SIPP, maybe concerning property or unquoted shares, are you really going to go to SL/L&G etc who will probably not know much about what you want to do, or would you go to Hornbuckles, Dentons etc?

    Anyway, all the churning of PPP’s into ‘SIPPs’ which has been encouraged by the life offices is a timebomb waiting to happen. RU64, anyone??

  4. I agree with Dathan. Any of my clients who have an insurance company SIPP have been “sold” it as a PPP with a SIPP option and NOT as a SIPP.
    RU64 has not gone away and selling something as a SIPP when a client is never going to make use of the SIPP option is a complaint waiting to happen….

  5. When is the regulator going to lift the bonnet of this car made of jelly?

  6. Clearly the last comment demonstrates the lack of knowledge in the SIPP market. Standard Life currently operate’s in the pure sipp marketplace and has over 1000 properties held within its sipp product. It is not a personal pension as suggested by Dathan Steele hence the reason why they are launching a personal pension contract.

  7. To Anon. If you are going to criticise Dathan (I don’t always agree with him), then at least have the balls to post using your own name so we can be aware of your own shortcomings and criticise you too.

  8. The only thing Standard Life could do to encourage me to place any business with them ever again is to undo and compensate me for the changes they unilaterally imposed w.e.f. 6th April 2001 on all the PP’s we wrote with them throughout the 90’s. They didn’t even give us prior notice or an explanation, let alone ask our permission.

    So, Standard Life, don’t bother getting one of your consultants to phone this particular practice trying to drum up some fresh interest in any of your products. They’ll be summarily rebuffed.

  9. Neil F Liversidge 7th December 2009 at 11:49 am

    All I can say is that I have used Standard Life for SIPP property purchases and have found them absolutely excellent in every regard. Their staff could not have been more efficient of helpful. One case was finalised by me whilst i was on holiday, by phone to their Edinburgh office from the top of the Kehlstein mountain in Bavaria where Adolf used to hang out!

  10. Neil, the irony of that is that under MIFId unless you have a mifid passport, you administered “cross borders” by finalising whilst in Bavaria and hence you may have committed a criminal offence!
    Personally I don’t think you did anything wrong, but I say this just to demonstrate how stupid some of the FSA and EU rulea actually are….

  11. Neil F Liversidge 7th December 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Mea culpa – I’d not thought of that Phil. I’ll go out into the car park and ritually flog myself with barbed wire to expiate my sin of working whilst on holiday for the benefit of my clients. Hopefully that will placate the angry gods of Canary Wharfe and I’ll still be able to earn a living and feed my kids!

  12. To: Anonymous | 7 Dec 2009 10:13 am

    Wow, a 1000 properties, in how many tens of thousands of ‘SIPP’ wrappers sold! Wow, give SL a gold star….

    The big issue with the whole ‘SIPP’ debate is that there is not actually a clear definition as to what a SIPP actually is…. a product is not a SIPP merely because Standard’s marketing department say it is 🙂

    If you think any of the life office wrappers set up under master trust arrangements are actually pure SIPPs then I would contest that it is you who have a clear lack of knowledge in this area.

    A lot of clients are getting sold the usual managed funds wrapped in a ‘SIPP’. There is no reason why these types of funds could not be in a PPP, or heaven forbid a Stakeholder. All that is achieved in putting them in a SIPP is to earn more commission for the adviser and for a higher level of charges to denude the eventual pension fund….

    With the increasing launch of ‘flexible retirement products’, which can be a PPP, a ‘SIPP’ lite, or a USP contract then the waters are even muddier….

    Here’s a thought. If you sell someone a flexible product as a PPP, and if in 10 years time they convert it to a SIPP (and correct me if I’m wrong…some of these contracts have the option for the client to do this without having to discuss it with their Adviser first) and then something goes wrong, guess who will carry the can? Will it be: (a) The IFA, or (b) The IFA, or (c) The IFA?!!

    Answers on a postcard to ‘FSA SIPP Review’ 2015 🙂

  13. Dathan,

    As you’re aware, there are a number of contracts out there that could be described as ‘unbundled personal pensions with SIPP options’. If the client only pays for said SIPP options when they choose to access them then what’s the problem? The FSA’s thematic review certainly doesn’t have a problem with it.

    Personally, I’m more concerned with IFA’s who still think it’s their job to pick funds for their clients. IFA’s trying to be stockbrokers is a bigger banana skin than life offices putting new ‘bells and whistles’ contracts to the market.

    Standard will do well to get commitment from the IFA market for their PP having had to do this U-turn.

  14. Steve

    My problem with these contracts is that it virtually always ends up with the IFA on the street getting the s****y end of the stick if things go wrong. Sp’s, blame the IFA. Global warming, blame the IFA! (Maybe this is a bit paranoid but I’ve been in the industry for a while, and just because you are paranoid does not mean they are not watching you…)

    Yup, in theory a flexible contract can mean that a client will not pay conversion fees if they require a different type of contract, so from that respect they are good. Also it means that the development costs for the provider should be less, therefore the charges should be less (ho ho!)

    I agree re picking funds. Many FoF managers with huge resources behind them completely mess up picking funds, so why should a guy working out of his back bedroom be able to do this? Obviously its a farce, but do the DFMs really do it any better?

    Personally I like the good FoF boys, Chatfeild-Roberts, Ricketts, Harries et al…. and feel that they offer a solution for certain clients.

  15. Thank You Dathan for yet another negative posting,
    I took the liberty of google searching your name before posting and I have to say that I’m astonished that you choose to remain in an industry that you seem to find so frustrating, literally every posting you’ve ever made is a negative, poor Anthony Bolton’s probably crying into his £10,000 Harrods pillow at your scathing attach on 29/11/2009……….. That aside,

    You’re right, 1000 properties does not a SIPP make (2nd most in the pension market but who’s counting) however if you add, individual shares, ETF, deposit accounts, DFM and structured products, regardless if it’s written under a master trust or not,
    IT’S A SIPP, whether you contest it or not, it’s a SIPP, not just SL marketing say it’s a SIPP but the trust that it’s written on say it, the FSA regards it as such, it even says the word SIPP on the literature!

    There is still a £1.6billion PP market, why wouldn’t you evolve your proposition in order to participate?
    It seems like good business practice to me.

    Again at the top end which is dominated by small niche companies, if a company with the servicing reputation, brand and scale of Standard Life makes a move to participate in this area then why wouldn’t you place business with them, if they are your top clients then you would want them to have the best servicing experience.

    £11billion worth of assets in 5 years, the core SIPP didn’t do too badly, some might say the most successful SIPP in the market (and it is a SIPP).
    If you evolve that successful proposition to allow you to capture assets earlier, allow them to grow, allow flexibility to invest wherever you want, only charge for what you use and place them in an environment where there is no need to move away then the profitabilty becomes greater, you can invest the profit to develop and evolve the business and keep it fresh, hence little things like the most rapidly growing platform in the UK, a corporate offering so good that BT thought they’d stick £150m a year into it and the most stable FDG surplus in the sector during very difficult economic conditions.

    Final thoughts regarding your comments about “muddy waters”:

    Stakeholder contract in a managed fund = 1%

    SL SIPP contract in managed fund = 1% (less Large Fund Discounts)

    No commission via the amc = transparent
    Fixed monerty cost for full SIPP if it’s used = transparent

    What’s muddy about that and where is the extra expense AND COMMISSION!

    Being a Standard Life employee I suppose that I would be biased towards the company that I work for and I suppose I should also state that these are my own view and not Standard Life’s, however I won’t remain anonymous, if you would furnish me with a more complete all round SIPP proposition, I’ll take your views on board then show you where you went wrong.

  16. Thanks to Alan Meechan for the Standard Life Sales pitch! Yup, already heard the Standard Life corporate line over and over again….

    Re my ‘scathing attack’ on Mr Bolton, what I actually said was:

    ‘If you believe in Value stock picking (Graham/Buffett et al) then Bolton is the man. My understanding is that the only manager to have ever done better in the retail space is Peter Lynch, another Fidelity manager)…..’

    OK, I took the mickey out of Mr Bolton’s calling the bottom of the market (twice!) in his FT column, but I’d hardly call that ‘a scathing attack’

    Yup, I find certain aspects of the financial services industry to be ‘frustrating’. Of course, no one else in this industry finds anything about it to be frustrating!!….. (see the letters page of any of the pinks for LOTS of frustrated comments. Hell, the other day I opened MM to the letters page and Julian Stevens was not featured. I felt like giving his practice a ring to make sure if he was ok)

    Maybe Standard Life employees get given happy pills so they view the industry in a different light to a lot of other people??

    Alan, maybe you are right and us ‘moaners’ should go and do something else…..

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