In a letter sent to advisers, seen by FTAdviser, Aviva announced it would be closing the self investment option within clients’ Executive Pension Plan, where securities and property assets are held.
According to Aviva, the changes impact various pension products, including Individual & Executive Pension Plans.
Advisers were warned that either the adviser or the client themselves would need to contact Aviva by Tuesday, July 4 or the provider would “start to sell the assets, including auctioning your client’s property on the open market”.
An Aviva spokesperson said: “This will be commercial property held in the name of Aviva as a form of investment for the benefit of customers under their pension plans.”
Aviva would then move the money to the Aviva Pension Managed EP fund which is an alternative investment fund within the client’s pension plan.
Aviva told FTAdviser that this will affect about 180 clients.
Nathan Bridgeman, director at provider Seabridge Ssas, said he had received calls from several advisers who had surprised and dissatisfied clients.
“Whilst it is pleasing to see that Aviva will pay the advice consultation and ‘reasonable’ entry fees for moving providers, selling clients' high quality commercial property or find another professional trustee is hardly in the spirit of treating customers fairly or consumer duty given the very short timescale.
“Whilst an EPP is a legacy product, it is effectively a restricted Ssas in today’s pension landscape. SeaBridge Ssas are helping advisers and their clients convert these schemes to Full Ssas acting as the scheme administrator and professional trustee. This has the benefit of increasing functionality, investment freedoms and de-risking clients.”
Peter Ryan, a financial planner who has a few clients affected by these changes, said his clients have had no direct communication from Aviva.
“The communication between Aviva and the client seems to be quite lacking,” he said.
Ryan added: “In one way, it's a good opportunity to move over to something that's going to have a lot more administrative services that are up to scratch and a lot more freedom of what we do with it.”
However, he had concerns about the timeframe.
Ryan said: “You would have thought that that kind of correspondence would have been sent a while ago to give six months or something like that.
“Even if an adviser is away and then Aviva sends out another letter in a month's time, which they will probably do, it really creates that time limit. There’s definitely room for improvement in the communication side of things.