Moving on to the main useful features and strong points of the product, Laymond says: “It can cope with virtually all corporate pension requirements. There is on line and internet access for members, clients and IFAs.”
Mandell points to the external fund links and the fact that the company is owned by Credit Suisse, giving brand recognition.
Duchart mentions: “The generic charging structure across a broad range of plan options and consistent branding.”
Holian likes the wide range of funds from using the multi-manager approach, as well as the implementation support which minimises the workload involved.
Considering the range of options provided by the plan, Mandell says: “The options are basic requirements for a post-stakeholder pension. The scheme will stand or fall by the company's quality of service – time will tell if they can deliver the promises.”
Holian feels that the range of options is good, Duchart says they are: “Comprehensive and clear.”
Laymond likes the ability to construct a tailor-made plan covering one or all types of pension, ie group personal pension plan, stakeholder, money purchase and trustee investments.
Turning to the plan's disadvantages, the panel has a difference of opinion. Both Laymond and Mandell feel that the Winterthur name is not well known, with Laymond commenting: “This means extra work selling the company as well as the product.”
Duchart says: “A possible difficulty in determining suitability for individuals given that everything looks the same.”
Holian does not like the fact that there is no facility to build in ongoing fees.
On the subject of the flexibility offered by the plan, Duchart says: “For stakeholder, it's as flexible as they come.”
Holian says that it seems fair, but that with low charges he would expect the utmost flexibility.
Laymond says: “It would be difficult to see how it could be more flexible without being a SIPP.”
Mandell says that the flexiblity is okay by market standards, but feels that it is nothing special.
The panel has a mixed opinion when asked about the reputation of Winterthur. Mandell says: “I still encounter resistance to an unfamiliar name. A greater prominence to the Credit Suisse brand would be a positive move.”
Laymond feels that IFAs do not have a problem with Winterthur, but that the company is unknown to clients.
Holian says: “I often think of them for SIPPs rather than more conventional pensions. However, recent roadshows have raised their profile as a pensions office.”
Duchart calls Winterthur a specialist company widening its appeal to the broader market.
Looking at Winterthur's past performance record, Holian says that the emphasis seems to be less on the company themselves, and more on the associated fund management groups.
Laymond says: “In view of the multi-manager approach pioneered by Skandia, it is more a question of picking good performing fund managers from the external funds available.”
Duchart calls the past performance record perfectly acceptable, adding that it is enhanced by the use of external fund links.
Mandell says that the company must be: “Circumspect in making their choices of external fund links.”
When asked which plans will provide the main competition, the panel list Clerical Medical, Norwich Union, Standard Life, Scottish Equitable, Skandia, Legal & General, Scottish Life, Axa Sun Life and Scottish Widows.
Turning to whether the charges are fair and reasonable, Duchart says: “Not particularly competitive.”
Mandell says that the stakeholder 1 per cent charge is a level playing field. Holian says: “Yes, the maximum 1 per cent charge allows for a good choice of funds that should prove good value.”
Laymond points out that the charges depend on the size of the case and the fact that each policy is tailored for the client.
There is a difference of opinion when the panel consider whether the commission paid by the plan is fair and reasonable.