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Reviews for Standard Life

Average User Review Ratings for Pension (Stakeholder) products

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Service: Pension (Stakeholder) Product: Stakeholder Pension

Review by hdeakin299 submitted on 27 May 2012

Likes: Nice Moneyplus Magasine : Good website facilities in their Online Document centre with Online Switching and Lifestyling and ability to change retirement dates : Reasonable range of funds : Good policy documentation

Dislikes: No Income Drawdown Facilities :The "blurb" may be a bit generic : Plans or Policies??

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I have had a Standard Life Stakeholder since about 2003 .I found that these Stakeholders can be great low cost consolidators "sweeping up" all the "bits and pieces" of pension that build up over a working life. (I call this stage the " first phase" of building a retirement vehicle ) . Some time ago updated my review of my Scottish Widows Stakeholder and for the sake of consistency I feel I should now do the same with the Standard Life Stakeholder Plan I also hold . In this review I shall focus on what is offered in the "second stage" of pensions ( that is the stage where a person can actually start drawing an income from the pension) : here I found that that the options that the Standard Life Stakeholder offer do not include the new Capped Drawdown facility : so they are pretty similar to Scottish Widows in this respect.

I have not had a "pre-retirement pack" from Standard Life In order to get the necessary information I decided to ring Standard Life today (the17 August 2011) and I speak to one of their representatives. I asked if Capped Drawdown was available with this Plan and if it was likely to be added in future. I was told "we won't do it" and that I would need a special Drawdown Policy like their SIPP to get this option.

So it is the same result that I got from Scottish Widows . I asked why this was the case and it seems that "Its not available" and "We won't do it" is the best information I could get from one quick phone call.
I think Justin mentioned that there is no actual legal or technical reason why Drawdown cannot be added to Stakeholders (correct me if I am wrong on this) but it appears just they have made a business decision not to offer it.

So should I recommend this policy? Is it up to date? I think the reader will be able to make their own decision about this . I have given the Scottish Widows Stakeholder Pension a "2" rating and their product DOES offer some access to external funds ( in the "first phase ") . The Standard Life Stakeholder plan has a good website and online Document Centre facilities and they have now broadened the funds ,they offer , out a bit with some external passive funds from Vanguard and others . Overall I think I think I would give it about the same rating as the Scottish Widows Stakeholder . I think both of these plans are reasonable in the "first phase" though this one would be better if it definitely offered external funds "active" funds as well as the passives: however the overall choice of funds is not too bad.It is in the "second phase" that more serious limitations apply as they both these plans appear to be shackled with the major focus on annuities only and no Drawdown facilities . As the reader will be no doubt aware , the returns from annuities have fallen considerably over recent years. It is a pity therefore that these companies do not feel able to "broaden out" the options available and include Drawdown.So it is one thing for the Government to say "let's do this" (wonderful pension improvement) : its another for the Pension Providers to say "Oh what a good idea" !

Today 20 04 12 I decided to look to see if I could switch into some of the Vanguard funds that I had heard that Standard Life are offering . It was a good opportunity to review my European holdings and reduce as required. It was all very easy . The Vanguard funds improve the range of trackers and it is good to be offered these. Switching was very easy. I don't mind too much if Standard make additional profits from the arrangement which appears to benefit everyone.

My main gripe with this pension is purely to go with the lack of Drawdown facilities . Drawdown would transform it's usefulness and it is a shame it is not offered . So I am still rating it as a "2"

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