News Publication date March 20, 2020

Property Funds Suspension

For Heritage Equitable Life customers the Utmost Property Life and Pension fund invests in the Aberdeen Property Fund. Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) have suspended dealing in their range of Property Funds until further notice. They have made this decision in consultation with the funds’ Depositary (an appointed entity that oversees cash flows, assets, operations of the fund, including valuations) and have notified the Financial Conduct Authority.

ASI suspended trading in their Property funds as from12.00pm on 17 March 2020 because current market volatility makes it impossible for them to provide a fair valuation of property assets.

For policyholders with Utmost prior to 1/1/2020 the Utmost Property funds are managed by Schroder Investment Management and primarily invest in the Schroder UK Real Estate Fund. Schroders in consultation with the funds Depository have suspended dealing in this fund.

What does this mean to you?

Customers with savings invested in the Utmost Property Funds will no longer be able to withdraw or switch out of these funds until further notice.

The price of the Utmost Property Funds will not be updated until dealing in the underlying respective ASI/Schroder fund restarts or there are fair value adjustments made by ASI/Schroder which would allow us to obtain a price to value the Utmost Property Funds.

If you have recently requested a payment or switch involving the Utmost Property Fund we would encourage you to email us on enquiries@utmost.co.uk in first instance. Alternatively Contact Us.

Why have ASI/Schroder decided to suspend their Property Funds?

Markets around the world have experienced huge disruption as COVID-19 (Coronavirus) spreads. As a result, reliable valuations of individual properties held by the ASI/Schroder Property funds cannot be provided by their independent valuers. Therefore ASI/Schroder believe they are unable to produce a price for their funds which reflects the assets’ true market value. This means Utmost is also unable to value its Property funds. In addition to ASI and Schroders many other UK Property Funds have also suspended for the same reason.

All other Utmost Funds (except Property Funds) continue to operate in the normal way and are being valued in line with our policies.

If you would like further information, do visit our unit-linked website or email us on enquiries@utmost.co.uk in first instance. Alternatively Contact Us.

We have added some frequently asked questions below to help you understand the suspension of the Property Fund.

We will update our website as soon as this situation changes. Once further information is available we will update our website and write to you, if necessary.



Why would you suspend a fund?

We would only take this action if the underlying assets were suspended and no price to value the fund was available. Financial Conduct Authority rules allow funds to be suspended, to protect the fund and the policyholders in it. It allows time for assets to be sold in a more controlled manner, rather than quickly, when the asset price may be volatile (sometimes referred to as a “fire sale”). A fund suspension is not necessarily a bad thing, if used to protect the fund for those selling, as well as remaining. It also stops people trying to take advantage of buying into the fund at a reduced value, at the expense of the existing investors.

How long will the Property Fund suspension last for?

It is a rapidly changing environment and we do not know how long the suspension will be in place for. It is possible that it could take up to six months before we are able to lift the suspension, we will keep our website updated with any news.

I am invested in the Property Fund, can I still take my money?

I am sorry, but as you are invested in a fund that has been suspended, it is not currently possible to take your savings.

Can I still switch?

I am sorry, but it is not possible to switch from or to a fund that is currently suspended. Please contact us again after the fund has re-opened.

It is still possible to switch between funds that have not been suspended.

Will you suspend any other funds?

We have not chosen to so far, but will be closely monitoring what JP Morgan (JPM) and Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) do.

If they decide to suspend trading on other funds, it is possible that we may have to suspend any Utmost funds which hold the relevant ASI and/or JPM funds.

Is it possible that I may not get my money back?

The amount you receive will depend on the unit price when the fund re-opens. The amount you receive could be less than invested.

How will you let me know when the suspension has been lifted?

We will update our website as soon as the situation changes and we have clarity and information available. We will also consider whether to write out to affected policyholders once the suspension has been lifted.

Why did you not make me aware that this situation was possible?

We have made our customers aware of this situation in a couple of ways. There is a guide to how we manage our unit-linked funds available on our website, which explains there may be exceptional circumstances where it is not possible to price a fund in a usual way. There is also information about the possibility of a fund suspension on the Property fund factsheet that is also available on the website.

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