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Life and Pensions Moneyfacts

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      22.05.2001 03:44
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      I get Life and Pensions magazine monthly as part of my job and if it wasn't for my job I would definitly not buy it unless I had trouble sleeping :-) I will state now that I am not writing this opinion to preserve my job as an Independent Financial Adviser, I am not on this site to promote me, I just don't want anyone to make an investment decision on this publication alone. I will also state that I have used Scottish Life here as an example, but that doesn't mean they aren't a good company - they are all good in the right circumstances!! Unlike their other publication 'Moneyfacts' (see my previous opinion on this) which is useful to the man on the street, this can be downright dangerous!! The magazine is divided into sections and publishing which companies are offering the best rates for annuties (the product that pays your pension when you retire), investment bonds, endowment policies and life assurance. Anyone picking this magazine up is probably checking to see which company is doing well and which is not doing quite so well. Unfortunately if choosing an investment company was as easy as looking to see which funds were performing well my Cat would probaly be the best dressed moggie around!! The magazine can be useful for comparison purposes but in no way should it be used to make a decision as to which company you should be investing in. If you were to look at the best performing pension fund for example you would see that the chart shows the best fund after 25 years is Scottish Life. Reading the small print shows that these figures are based on a male retiring at 65 having contributed premiums of £500 a year. Most people on reading all that would then think that Scottish Life are the best pension company to invest in. In that particular circumstance they would have been, but what if you were making contributions on a monthly basis instead of contributing once a year? Would
      that make a difference? Without a doubt because the charging structure might be different making another company a cheaper option as far as charges are concerned. OK, so you decide that you want to stick with Scottish Life. What about all the little things that make a good policy? Does Scottish Life penalise you if you want to retire before the age you originally choce. For example, if you chose a retirement age of 65 and decide later on that you want to retire at age 60 because of circumstances, will there be a penalty? Are you allowed to stop and start premiums without any penalties, or are there charges? If you are thinking of having a family for example, would it be a good idea to have a contract which allows you to stop and start when you want? probably, so you need to avoid companies which penalise, but Life and Pensions doesn't tell you which do and whch don't. It could be that Scottish Life offer a great contract which is right for you but this publications just gives fund information and makes the reader assume that this is enough to make an important decision on. You should never make an investment decision based on fund information alone, what if you have invested and the fund manager leaves, where are you then? If you look at someof the other charts further on you will eventually glean some of the information, such as how much the monthly charges are for specific premiums, but again it doen't give you information specific to your circumstances, so if you are a man wanting to retire at 60 and contribute £30 a month the information may well be incorrect for you. Having said all that the magazine has an easy to read index, it's just when you get to the tables and charts that it all gets a bit hazy!!! Unless you are a real number cruncher and want to devour useless information then you should avoid this. I use a computer programme to sort out a lot of the information this magazine
      contains, and thank goodness, otherwise I would be writing this from the funny farm!! To take a look at this go to the library and read their copy but don't make a special journey!

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