Lisa market on course for monopoly of one provider

Lisa market on course for monopoly of one provider

Hargreaves Lansdown looks set to be the only provider that will have a Lifetime Isa ready by the April launch date, with the vast majority yet to decide whether they will even offer the savings vehicle.

Even firms like Zurich and Fidelity - which have previously been more bullish about the controversial new Isa than others - signalled an April launch date for their proposition was now unlikely.

Following the passing of the Lisa into law last week, FTAdviser asked a wide selection of life companies, platforms and banks whether they would have a product ready for market by April.

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Only Hargreaves Lansdown confirmed it would have a Lisa ready for April.

A spokesman for Zurich said it would definitely not have one ready by April, backtracking on a previous commitment after the government took longer than expected to confirm the finer details of how the product would actually work.

Martin Palmer, Zurich's head of corporate funds proposition, said the provider would look "to see where the market is going", adding there were "customer risks" that needed to be addressed.

A spokesperson for Fidelity International, one of the most vocal proponents of the Lisa, said the provider could not commit to being ready by April 2017, but did confirm it would have a product available at some point in the next year.

After Hargreaves', that was the strongest promise any of the providers would make to launching a Lisa.

Old Mutual Wealth's Jon Greer was more negative than most.

Mr Greer said the provider was "taking a watching brief" on the Lisa.

He said the product's hybrid structure was "slightly muddled", making it unclear who it would really serve - a factor he described as "worrying".

A spokesperson for Royal London said the provider had not yet decided whether or not to offer a Lisa, saying it required "more information" on the regulatory requirements.

However, Royal London did not rule out eventually offering a Lisa, despite the fact that the provider's director of policy and former pensions minister Sir Steve Webb has been the Lisa's prominent critic, alongside his successor as pensions minister Ros Altmann.

Aegon's pensions director Steven Cameron, also a prominent Lisa sceptic, said the provider could not "commit to any firm launch date at present".

However, he kept the door open to offering a Lisa once the FCA's final regulations are set in stone.

A spokesperson for Aviva said it was "unlikely" the firm would have a product ready by April, citing lack of detail and "concerns" the Lisa would be seen as a replacement for a pension.

Banks were just as unsure of their position as life companies.

Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Barclays all stated that they could not confirm whether or not they would offer a Lisa, while HSBC did not respond when we asked if it planned to offer the savings vehicle.

Barclays was the most positive, however, stating it was looking at offering both a cash and a stock and shares Lisa.