Standard Life to stop offering new Ssas products

Insurance giant Standard Life is to stop selling new Ssas products at the end of next year, saying advisers no longer recommend them to clients.

The company will discontinue writing new Ssas policies at the end of 2013 and will shift its concentration to its Sipp and wrap offerings because it believes they will be more profitable in the long-term.

“On the whole Ssas is no longer a product advisers recommend to their clients, therefore we have taken the decision to no longer sell it,” said Alistair Hardie, head of pensions accumulation at Standard Life.

“Although there is still a market for Ssas, this is a specialist market and not a core market for Standard Life and the adviser firms that we work with. We find advisers now recommend our Sipp or wrap offering instead.”

While Standard Life will not longer offer Ssas policies to new clients, it said it is not looking to sell its book of business.

“We will of course continue to look after existing Ssas clients – they will not experience any change to the level of service they currently enjoy,” said Mr Hardie. “Existing schemes will continue to be administered by Rowanmoor Pensions and new members can join existing schemes.”

Despite Standard Life’s move to stop offering new Ssas products, research compiled by Mintel, the market research firm, suggests the Ssas market is currently experiencing good growth levels.

“New Ssas premiums grew by 17 per cent in 2011 compared to the previous year, and many providers are confident of this new growth spurt continuing,” the report said.

Nigel Bennett, business development manager at InvestAcc, the investment and retirement planner, said he believes Ssas schemes will grow in popularity.

“I believe there’s a very significant opportunity for new Ssas schemes in 2013,” he said. “RDR should push advisers to consider these schemes further, and we’re confident that this will lead to us gaining additional Ssas clients over the next 12 months and beyond. The future does indeed look good for Ssas.”

Andrew Asquith-Vallance, director of Wensley-Mackay, said he understands why a large insurance company, such as Standard Life, would exit from the market, though believes the RDR should help resolve Ssas “image problems”.

“We’re not surprised at a large insurance company exiting the Ssas market as we see Ssas as a bespoke consultant-driven product rather than the mass-market process-driven product which insurance companies tend to focus on,” he said.

“However, RDR if anything strengthens the Ssas offering as a true non-insured Ssas is very transparent in terms of adviser remuneration to the extent that as well as signing the fee agreement the members sign off the IFA’s fee cheque.”