Synergy chasing adviser business again

Synergy chasing adviser business again

Synergy Financial Products is coming back to the adviser market this year with an investment plan after the shrinking demand for endowment-style products forced the company to rethink its strategy.

Ben Pears, the company’s director of investment strategy, said the Synergy Lifetime Income Plan - which is already available in the direct-to-consumer market - would be launched to advisers in the next few months.

He said: “There is nothing stopping an adviser making the sale right now if they had a direct charging structure.

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“If they want to generate charging through the product then we are not quite there yet but we are hoping to develop that in the next three to four months.”

Several years ago Synergy was forced to rethink its strategy after Mr Pears said the products it was offering became “obsolete” and advisers shied away.

But Mr Pears said Synergy is now seeking to regain its presence in the market with new products.

He added he is already in early talks with a number of advice firms about its income plan, though he declined to name them, but said their reaction to the product has been positive.

The plan invests in 20 shares selected from the FTSE 100 with an aim to pay a stable monthly income calculated at the start of each year.

Dividend payments received by the plan are used to smooth monthly income and the plan currently aims to pay out 5.61 per cent, though this is recalculated every year.

Mr Pears said the stocks the plan invests in are made public and include BAE Systems, HSBC, National Grid, Unilever and Vodafone.

He said people could recreate it through a stockbroker but added that Synergy’s advantage would be its low administration charge of 0.25 per cent, with an automatic rebalancing charge of £5 per deal.

Mr Pears said: “This is more akin to a fund because we are doing the underlying stock selection but when you compare it to a fund this is far cheaper.”

Synergy’s investment committee selects its stocks on the basis of their dividend track records, their consistency and their future potential while also looking to have a diverse mix across sectors.

Since its launch the fund has attracted £2.5m, mainly from clients at or approaching retirement.

The St Albans-based company, which Aviva owns a stake in, was founded in 1984 and looks after £90m of assets.

In the past the bulk of its business came through its protection products, which could be put together in an Isa and help people pay off their mortgages.

Mr Pears said: “The market moved away from selling those kind of products. The association with low-cost endowment policies made advisers shy away from products associated with paying off a debt.

“The products we were offering became obsolete about three or four years ago. We still service £90m of client assets and still have day-to-day contact with advisers that have clients with us.