What if I do nothing?

The automatic investment option

If you do not make an investment choice, your savings will be invested in our automatic option, which has been chosen because we believe it is appropriate for the needs of most policyholders.

On the date of transfer

If you haven’t yet made an investment choice, your savings will be moved into a secure cash investment on the date of transfer to Utmost Life and Pensions, to give you more time to make a decision. While your savings are in the secure cash investment, they are guaranteed not to decrease in value, though they will not be protected against the effects of inflation.

After six months

If you haven’t made a decision at the end of the six-month period, your money will begin to transition into our Multi-Asset Moderate Fund, a blend of shares, bonds and cash seeking to take moderate levels of risk to generate moderate growth over the long term.

The following six months

To minimise the impact of market fluctuations, your money will move into Multi-Asset Moderate Fund gradually over the following six months. You will be fully invested in Multi-Asset Moderate Fund no later than 12 months from the date of transfer.

Graphic

What if I don’t want to wait?

If you think Multi-Asset Moderate is right for you, you do not need to wait to be invested automatically. Simply select Multi-Asset Moderate on your Investment Choices form and you can begin to transition into the strategy from the date of transfer.

Have a look at your other investment options.


Need more information?

Frequently asked questions

How can I find out more information about Utmost Life and Pensions?

Please see the About Us section of our website.

Who are Utmost and is my money safe with them?

Utmost Life and Pensions Limited (“Utmost”) is a life insurance and pensions company and is regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) and the PRA (Prudential Regulation Authority).

Utmost believes that the deal ensures a financially stable home for the Equitable’s Policies, and Policyholders will benefit from our strong capital position and operational management.

Utmost has over 100,000 customers, and handles around £1.7 billion of assets. It is part of the wider Utmost group of companies which has 240,000 customers and manages £33 billion of assets.

You can find more information about Utmost in paragraph 61 of Explanatory Booklet Part B and on this website. Utmost’s Solvency & Financial Condition Report (SFCR) can also be found on the Utmost website at www.utmost.co.uk/about-us/regulatory-reports

Will the Transfer to Utmost adversely affect my Policy and/or investments?

The Transfer Independent Expert, whose appointment was approved by the PRA after consultation with the FCA, has considered in detail the effects of the proposed Transfer on the Equitable’s policyholders and on Utmost’s. Among other things, he is satisfied that the Transfer will not materially adversely affect any group of policyholders and will not materially adversely affect the benefit security of any group of policyholders. You can find the summary of his report in Appendix VIII of Explanatory Booklet Part B. You can also download the full version of his report.

What is the investment performance of Utmost funds?

If the Proposal goes ahead, unit-linked Funds offered by Utmost will be invested jointly between Aberdeen Standard Investments (the Equitable’s current investment manager) and JP Morgan Asset Management. New funds that are offered by Utmost that were not available with the Equitable, such as multi-asset and corporate bond funds, will be invested solely with JP Morgan Asset Management.

Worldwide, the percentage of JP Morgan Asset Management’s multi-asset and alternative mutual funds that are in the top two performance quartiles compared to their peers over 3 years is 82% and over 5 years is 91%.

Most of the JP Morgan Asset Management funds which are available for Scheme Policyholders to choose themselves (as opposed to those which form part of the Automatic Investment Option) are being launched in the UK specifically for Utmost.

JP Morgan Asset Management has similar funds in the United States of America that have similar objectives. Based on those similar funds, indicative track records suggest that 6 of the 8 Utmost self-select funds would be in the top two performance quartiles over 3 years.

What will happen on the implementation date?

Your policy will transfer to Utmost Life and Pensions and future information and policy updates will be from Utmost. You will be able to contact the same Customer Services in Aylesbury. You will be provided with new email addresses to contact us, but we will receive any emails sent to Equitable Life email addresses.

Will I still be able to transfer or surrender my Policy if the Proposal is implemented?

If your policy terms currently allow you to surrender or transfer your benefits, then the proposed transfer to Utmost will not change that. And, subject to your Policy’s terms, there will be no period after the proposed Implementation Date that a transfer or surrender will not be possible.

The Equitable and Utmost urge you to think carefully before making any decision to surrender or transfer your Policy and to seek financial advice, including as to whether there would be any tax consequences of doing that.

You should be aware that some Policies may have terms that mean you cannot transfer or surrender the Policy Value. The documents you have received so far should confirm this, but you can call the helpline if you are not sure.

When will I hear from Utmost Life and Pensions?

Utmost will first write to you in January 2020, and regular policy updates will follow.

When will I find out details of the uplift?

Utmost will first write to you in January 2020 and your letter will provide you with the uplift information for your policy.

How often will Utmost write to me about my policy?

Utmost will first write to you in January 2020, and regular policy updates will follow.

Will Utmost charge fees or penalties if I transfer my Policy to someone else?

Equitable do not charge exit fees or penalties, and for the first 12 months after the implementation date Utmost has agreed to administer all Transferring Policies to an equivalent standard. Therefore, in that period Utmost are not entitled to charge any fees for a Policyholder exercising their right to transfer to another provider.

Currently Utmost also has no plans to introduce any such fees beyond that 12 month period in the immediate future.

The Equitable and Utmost urge you to think carefully before making any decision to surrender or transfer your Policy and to seek financial advice, including as to whether there would be any tax consequences of doing that.

How will I contact Utmost?

Following the transfer, you will be able to contact the same Customer Services team in Aylesbury.

How will I find out the value of my policy in the future?

Utmost will provide unit prices for the investment funds on the website, and regular policy updates will be sent to you. You will be able to contact the Customer Services team in Aylesbury.

How can I let Utmost know my new address?

Please contact the Customer Services team in Aylesbury.

Will I still have the same retirement options as I have today, including taking a cash lump sum (UFPLS)?

Equitable customers will have the same range of options after the transfer . In addition Utmost are developing Utmost Drawdown which will be an addition to the current options. The plan is to make this available to transferring Equitable customers in early 2020.

With Equitable Life I can take some of my pension savings as cash. Does Utmost allow this option?

All the options currently available will continue to be available following the transfer.

Will Utmost be able to offer me a drawdown option?

Utmost are developing a flexi-access drawdown product, to be made available in early 2020.

Can a policyholder transfer into what will be their Utmost pension? Would Utmost make a charge?

As mentioned above, Utmost are currently developing Utmost Drawdown and will be considering fund consolidation into drawdown in 2020. There are no plans to allow other transfers into Equitable pension plans.

Will I be able to purchase an annuity with Utmost?

Equitable customers will have the same range of options as they have today after the transfer including buying an annuity on the open market. In addition Utmost are developing Utmost Drawdown which will be an addition to the current options. The plan is to make this available to transferring Equitable customers in early 2020.

How can I make a change or switch my investment fund?

You can move some or all of your savings to a different fund at any time.

Will there be a charge if I switch my investment fund?

There is currently no charge for fund switching.

Where will I find the unit prices for my investment funds?

Unit prices will be shown on our website, or you can contact the Customer Services team in Aylesbury.

Will I be reminded to review my investment fund choices in the future?

Utmost will remind you to review your investment choices as part of your regular policy update.

Why aren’t the investment funds on these pages shown under the main Utmost site?

These funds are only currently open to Equitable Life customers.

How will I find information on funds, pricing and switching? Will I be able to see fund factsheets and performance on the website in 2020?

Information about the funds, prices and how to switch fund will all be added to the Utmost website from January 2020. The process for switching fund will be unchanged from the Equitable process available today. Factsheets and performance information will also be available after the date of transfer.

What happens if I don’t return my investment choices form by the deadline?

What if I do nothing? (please click)

Will Utmost charge more than Equitable?

Utmost have an arrangement with the Equitable regarding the ongoing Annual Management Charges (AMCs) relating to Transferring Policies, and Utmost has no plans to raise ongoing annual management charges.

A summary of the charges is below, and you can read more about the charges in paragraph 58 of Explanatory Booklet Part B.

In summary:

A. For the first 12 months after the Implementation Date, AMCs for the Secure Cash Investment (available only to Scheme Policyholders) will not exceed 0.50% per year; and

B. AMCs for Transferring Policyholders invested in all other Unit-Linked Funds after the Implementation Date will typically not be more than 0.75% per year (and will not exceed 1%).

With-Profits Policyholders:

The current AMC for Equitable With-Profits Policyholders is 1.5%. If the Scheme and the Transfer go ahead, this would mean that their current level of AMCs would reduce from 1.5% per year to either 0.5% for the Secure Cash Investment (during the first year only) or typically 0.75% (and no more than 1%) for all other Unit-Linked Funds.

After the first 12 months:

Paragraphs 58.2(c) and (d) of Explanatory Booklet Part B describe how Utmost has agreed that the only charges applied by it to Transferring Policies which are invested in Unit Linked Funds will be the annual management charges (described above), certain deductions set out in the policy terms and conditions to cover additional insurance benefits on some policies and any other charges already allowed for in the policy’s terms and conditions.

There will be no other charges applied by Utmost in respect of the investment management, administration or asset management costs, including fund management charges and custody charges, other than certain exceptions relating to the Property Fund and certain costs involved in buying or selling assets which will be reflected in the price of the units.

How is the AMC taken?

Utmost will continue to deduct the AMC from the current range of Equitable funds in exactly the same way as Equitable do now. The AMC is taken into account when the unit price is calculated each day. This approach will also be used for the new range for funds, including the three new multi assets funds.

Will Utmost apply bid/offer spread charges to With-Profits Polices that are converted to Unit-Linked?

Utmost will not apply a bid/offer spread charge if the Scheme goes ahead and your With-Profits Policy is converted to a Unit-Linked Policy, nor will they apply any such charge on an ongoing basis to new premiums paid into Unit-Linked Policies.

Will I need to set up new bank details to pay my contributions / premiums?

You do not need to make any changes. The Part VII process and banking arrangements enable Equitable to transfer banking to Utmost.

Will Utmost make any change to their Board in 2020?

Utmost will continue to review the suitability of Board members in line with best practice and its Board Diversity policy

Glossary

Corporate bond funds

These funds invest in bonds issued by corporate borrowers. Returns may be higher than government bonds, for a higher level of risk. Returns may not keep pace with inflation.

Diversification

A term used to describe spreading your investments across a range of different assets classes, regions or industry sectors, to avoid concentrating your risk and potentially reducing the impact of market movements on the value of your investments.

Equity funds

Equity funds invest in a range of company shares. The price of shares can be volatile and go up or down based on how well the company is currently doing, or what its prospects are.

Government bond funds

These funds invest in bonds issued by governments. While interest rates remain low, returns are likely to be low and may not keep pace with inflation.

Money market or cash funds

Money market or cash funds invest in securities with a very short maturity, usually issued by governments, financial institutions or large companies. These are conservative investments in low-risk instruments, with the aim of protecting the value of your investment. Returns will likely be low and may not keep pace with inflation.

Multi-asset funds

These funds can invests across a wide range of equities, bonds and other assets. We seek to provide diversification.

Secure cash investment

A temporary cash fund in which the unit price is guaranteed not to decrease from the price at the initial investment date, although its value is unlikely to keep pace with inflation.

Unit-linked investment fund

Unit-linked funds allow you to combine your money with other investors so that you can access a diversified range of investments within a single portfolio. They can provide a cost-effective way of investing in a range of securities and assets, including shares of UK and overseas companies, corporate bonds, government bonds, money market instruments and cash deposits.

It’s important to bear in mind that the value of unit-linked funds can go down as well as up and you may not get back the amount you invested. You should ensure you are comfortable with the level of risk and reward associated with any fund you invest in.


Professional Advice

You may also choose to seek professional advice from a financial adviser, authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, who specialises in investments.

How to find an authorised financial adviser

Online at www.unbiased.co.uk or telephone: 0800 023 6868

Please be aware that financial advisers may charge for their services.

You should ensure that any adviser you approach is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.


Equitable Life customer care

The easiest way to get in touch about the Proposal is to call the Equitable Life Proposal helpline

Call Us

0330 159 1530

Monday to Friday (not including bank holidays) 9 am to 5 pm