Standard Life upgrades platform in light of pension freedom

Victoria McKeever writes

Standard Life has made a number of changes to its platform with a view to supporting the growing number of people looking to make the most of pension freedom.

One of the key changes from an adviser perspective is that adviser charging can now be taken for new and existing bonds from within the group’s International Portfolio Bond product. According to Standard Life, this makes it unique in facilitating flexibility of income in retirement consistently across all tax wrappers on its platform.

In other developments, recording of nominations online has been extended to offer greater flexibility and control by integrating into the online review proces while ‘tailored drawdown’, which aims to maximise tax-efficient withdrawals in pensions, is now a fully online ‘quote and apply’ process.

At the same time, a Lifetime Allowance percentage tool has been introduced to assist in the ongoing management of drawdown, and a Portfolio Performance Report has been created to provide a snapshot of the current portfolio as well as greater choice to advisers on the different reports available for clients.

Standard Life head of financial planning Alastair Black (pictured) said: “We are seeing the focus shift more and more towards retirement planning – hence this has been the focal point of our activity.”

State of flux

According to the lang cat market analysis manager Terry Huddart, Standard Life’s focus on clients looking to make the most of pension freedom is more relevant than ever as it comes not only at a time when more money is flowing into this area but also as much of the platform sector is in a state of flux.

Research by the lang cat recently revealed more than half of the almost £400bn of total assets under administration across all platforms stands affected by acquisition and re-platforming announcements.

Huddart said: “While some other big providers are re-platforming, Standard Life has managed to build on past success with new enhancements and still remain at the forefront of the industry.”

Highlighting the upgraded tailored drawdown tool as one of the features that helps to keep Standard Life “ahead of the pack”, he added: “The common theme running through each of today’s enhancements is looking to help adviser compliance – so developing tools that help them work out the best way to withdraw money, taking tax and inheritance into consideration.”