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Product review: Strawberry Pensions AE service

Product review: Strawberry Pensions AE service

Direct-to-consumer investment platform Strawberry has launched its own auto-enrolment offering, targeted at the SME market. The service, Strawberry Pensions, will be provided with Trust Pensions, and is a guaranteed acceptance Mastertrust. It is administered by professional trustees Bridge Trustees Limited, with the aim of providing a hassle-free service.

Employers will not be charged to join the scheme, but are able to select additional options in order to tailor the set-up process for employees. There will also be assistance available during set-up as well as optional assessment and communication middleware.

The Mastertrust has been developed with the intention of keeping auto-enrolment as low cost and as simple as possible for SME clients as they approach their staging dates. The default fund option will be the BirthStar Target Date funds, which Strawberry uses in its existing ‘Make it Easy’ service, which feeds into its general investment account, Isa and Sipp propositions.

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There is also an express route available on the website using standardised terms, allowing those who wish to sign up quicker and to manage the process themselves the ability to do so.

www.strawberrypensions.org.uk

Comment:

Staging dates for firms with fewer than 50 employees begins from 1 June and continues over the next few years, so now is the perfect time for an easy to use product to be launched. Many firms, particularly those with fewer than 10 employees, may not have the time to set up a brand new scheme and all of the bells and whistles that come with it, so something like this offering from Strawberry Pensions may be the ideal set-up for smaller firms.

The idea of this product is to make it simple and efficient for smaller business employers to meet their enrolment requirements. There are an estimated 1.4m SMEs due to reach their staging date in the coming years, so the group says the additional capacity has been anticipated and will be “definitely required”.

Investments on the service are broad, with different managers providing options, from risk-profiled funds (the multi-asset passive fund range managed by Architas), target date funds (BirthStar funds by AllianceBernstein), ethical funds (LGIM Ethical Global Equity Index fund) and funds covered by Sharia (HSBC Life Amanah Pension fund).

Auto-enrolment can be a daunting task for SMEs, and particularly so for those not in the finance industry, so something like this simple-to-use product designed specifically for smaller companies may make many lives much easier in the run up to their staging dates.