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Welcome to Utmost Life and Pensions.
As an Equitable Life customer, you should have received information in the post about the Proposal.
If you have a with-profits policy which is being transferred to unit linked, you can find out further information on this website about the investment choices available to you if the proposal proceeds.

Find out more about us

Find out more about the transfer

Utmost Life and Pensions is a UK life and pensions company, authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the PRA , helping customers plan and save for the long term, with roots going back over 100 years. We are fully committed to working with you to help you achieve your investment goals, and we have a wide range of investment options for you to choose from. Whether you are a confident investor or would like to follow an investment strategy designed by professionals, we believe we have an option to suit your needs.

Working with our new investment partner, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, an investment manager with a 150-year history, we’re here to help you achieve future piece of mind with your life or pension policy.

Key dates to remember

  • Investment choice pack

    Mid
    Aug
    2019
  • Deadline for online voting

    30
    Oct
    2019
  • Second court hearing

    22
    Nov
    2019
  • Investment forms deadline

    13
    Dec
    2019
  • Implementation date

    01
    Jan
    2020

YOUR INVESTMENT CHOICES

You have three choices of investment strategy, which you can use individually or combine.

Achieve peace of mind with your pension policy

Before you make a choice, we encourage you to review the investment options available to you carefully and consider your financial circumstances, goals and attitude to risk.

Your time horizon

This simply means how long you want to be invested.

Higher risk funds can fluctuate more over short time periods, but over the longer term they have the ability to provide higher returns and can protect your savings from the effects of inflation. When investing in higher risk funds, you should be prepared to invest for five years or more to give you more time to ride out the bumps.

Cautious funds tend to experience smaller fluctuations in value and can therefore be more suitable if you have a shorter time horizon. However, potential returns are likely to be lower and may not keep up with inflation.

Your attitude to risk

Whenever you make an investment, you expose your savings to a degree of risk. Working out how much risk you can afford to take, and how much risk you are prepared to take, is important in helping you to select the fund or funds most suitable for your needs.

Balancing risk and reward

A general rule is that the more risk you are prepared to take, the greater your potential returns could be over time. On the downside, your potential losses may also be greater. The less risk you are prepared to take, the lower your potential returns could be over time—but your potential losses may also be reduced.

However, even if you are able to invest over a long period of time, you may not be comfortable with large fluctuations in the value of your investment.

Alternatively, you may be able to accept higher levels of investment risk if it helps you to meet your investment goals.

Spreading your risk

You can spread your risk and reduce the impact of market fluctuations by investing in a combination of different asset types, for example through one of our multi-asset funds.

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 associated with any fund you invest in.

Pension case studies

Case Study Profile 1

Margaret doesn’t feel confident about making an investment choice

Margaret could look at our Investing by Age strategy, in which investment professionals would spread her money across a broad range of investments based on her age. The Investing by Age strategy is also the automatic investment option, meaning Margaret’s savings would automatically begin to move into this strategy after six months if she has not made a different choice. She could also consider our multi-asset funds, which would let her make one decision based on her goals and attitude to risk.

Sarah Case study image

Sarah, 43, is an experienced investor who is saving for retirement

Sarah’s relatively long time horizon and her investment experience suggest that she may want to consider equity funds and/or Multi-Asset Growth as part of her investment choice. She could also consider the Investing by Age strategy, which is designed to help her money grow while she can afford to take some risk, and then focus on protecting her savings as she nears retirement.

Bob Case Study Image

Bob is just two years from retirement

At this stage in his retirement planning, Bob may consider cash and money market funds, or UK Gilt funds, which offer greater protection for his savings, although growth may be modest and the value of his savings may not keep up with inflation. He could also consider Multi-Asset Cautious, which emphasises capital preservation rather than growth.

Richard Case Study Image

Richard, 60, isn’t relying on his Equitable savings in retirement

Although he is nearing retirement, Richard’s strong financial position means he can potentially afford to take some risk with some of his savings. He may therefore be able to consider equity and corporate bond funds within his investment choice. He could also look at Multi-Asset Moderate, which is designed for investors seeking moderate growth.

Case studies are for illustrative purposes only.

Time-tested strategies for achieving your long-term investment goals

The key to successful investing isn’t trying to predict the future, but learning from the past and understanding the present. Staying focused and not being swayed by the market’s daily ups and downs is key.

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 we handle 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 February 2020, and regular policy updates will follow.

When will I find out details of the uplift?

Utmost will first write to you in February 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 February 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.

For details about help and guidance with your pension options please go to Pensions advice

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