Standard Life under fire for ‘poaching’ letters to advised clients

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Advisers have slammed Standard Life for sending “poaching” letters to advised clients.

The provider has written to thousands of customers urging them to review whether its Annuity Purchase fund is still suitable for them.

The letter says the fund is designed for customers who are planning to buy an annuity.

It says for those who are yet to decide how to take their pension, Standard Life’s Active Plus II pension fund “is considered appropriate”.

The letter explains this fund costs 0.11 per cent more than the Annuity Purchase Fund.

A Standard Life spokeswoman originally claimed the letter had only been sent to non-advised clients.

However, the spokeswoman later admitted it had been sent to a “small number” of advised customers in error. She said fewer than 100 advised customers were written to.

HCF Partnership financial adviser Ian Bennett, whose client received a letter, says: “Standard Life appears to be trying to get advisers’ clients to contact them on flimsy grounds.

“Other advisers need to be aware that Standard Life is trying to poach clients.

“This fund has performed well so it is very worrying that customers may be tempted to move into another fund without any fact finding taking place.”

Thameside Financial Planning director Tom Kean adds: “Life offices trying to flirt with clients directly has been going on for years, but this is nonetheless worrying. One has to question how Standard Life’s systems allowed this mistake to happen.”

A Standard Life spokeswoman says: “This should not have happened as the letter was intended for non-advised customers only.

“We will be contacting Mr Bennett to apologise for this error.”