April 26, 2007 / 9:29 AM / 11 years ago

High earners abandon basic personal pension schemes

LONDON (Citywire) - Standard personal pension schemes are failing to hold the interest of members at the higher end of the market, according to Scottish Widows research.

Figures by the life company show that the proportion of people transferring out of Scottish Widows pensions funds worth 100,000 pounds is more than double the proportion of people exiting pensions funds worth 50,000 pounds or less.

Speaking at a pensions road show, Ian McGowan, head of retirement income and planning at Scottish Widows, said that the figures reflect an industry-wide problem of poor persistency across larger pension funds.

He said: “Changes to pensions regulation post A-Day temporarily magnified that effect.”

McGowan said that one of the reasons for this lack of persistency is that provider-run personal pension schemes are not offering enough flexibility and choice of investments to retain customers at the top end of the market.

According to McGowan, many of the movements could be a result of people transferring onto fund supermarkets, individually constructed investments and more specialist pension vehicles.

He said: “This changes the thinking that larger funds are more profitable. Providers are not properly segmenting customers. We’re not serving the needs of larger customers.”

Nicola Downes, business principal at Trentham Invest, said: “You could draw the conclusion that large pension funds are also some of the oldest pension policies and that they have the policy for aeons.” She said that in some cases the original policy may no longer be suitable for the policyholder in light of developments in the pensions market.

Downes said that the lack of persistency across larger pension funds could also be a result of the commission incentives that life offices are offering IFAs to transfer pensions business.

She said: “Not all IFAs are morally sound.”

Many life companies offer higher commission for SIPPS than personal and stakeholder pensions and there is generally a greater incentive to attract larger pension funds.

c Citywire Financial Publishers Ltd 2007.

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