Prudential International Investment Bond Review

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Prudential International Investment Bond Review
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logo-roundel TailorMade Ratings:

Fund Access 3.5 / 5


Charges 2.5 / 5


Accessibility 2.0 / 5


thumbs upPros

  • Widely available and sold, with strong company rating
  • Offers some tax protection in certain jurisdictions
  • With commission rebated it could be considered for a minimum of 5 years investment and no withdrawals required
  • It offers time apportionment for those returning to UK

thumbs downCons

  • No flexibility of full withdrawal or full access in the early years without penalty
  • Many countries do not recognise any tax concessions
  • With commission this is an extremely expensive option, and even part withdrawals can increase real costs
  • WARNING: Costs are largely dictated by the charging structure chosen by an adviser. Some advisers recommend a 1% regime and then, after the client has signed, change the charging structure to a more expensive regime to earn more commission

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Prudential LogoPrudential plc is an international financial services group with significant operations in Asia, the US and the UK. They are around 24 million customers and they have £509 billion of assets under manageme. Prudential is listed on stock exchanges in London, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York.

The Group is structured around four main business units: Prudential Corporation Asia, Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Prudential UK and M&G.
M&G is Prudential’s UK and European fund management business with assets in excess of £246.1 billion.
Prudential is a leading international life insurer in Asia with operations in 13 markets, serving the emerging middle class families of the region’s outperforming economies. In the US, Prudential owns Jackson National, one of the largest insurance companies in the US, providing retirement savings and income solutions aimed at the 78 million ‘baby boomers’.

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Policy Currency: The Prudential International Investment Bond may be denominated in US dollar, GB pound, Hong Kong dollar, Japanese yen, Swedish krona (SEK) or Euro. Benefits will be paid in the plan currency.
Why choose the Prudential International Investment Bond: Multi-asset funds, including the Prudential Assurance Company (PAC) With-Profits Funds and the PruFund range of funds.

Five Dynamic Portfolios and two Dynamic Focused Portfolios targeting different levels of risk and potential return and our unique combination of experts – Prudential’s Portfolio Management Group for asset allocation and Morningstar for fund recommendations and selection.

An additional fund range to complement the Multi-Asset funds which are managed by Prudential and other external fund managers who have been chosen for their investment expertise.

Prudential International Investment Bond promotion: What does Prudential International write about their own Prudential International Investment Bond? Prudential International Investment Bond is an international lump-sum investment product that offers potential for capital growth over the medium to long term (five years +).It gives you access to the world’s investment markets through unit trusts, investment trusts and open-ended investment companies. The personalised assets version could also include international equities, fixed interest securities, structured notes and deposits. There is also an option to use Prudential International’s own funds however, these are “Mirror funds” which are a copy of the underlying fund and therefore may give different returns than the underlying fund it is mirrored from.
Eligibility: Prudential International Investment Bond is a regular premium, whole of life, life assurance contract issued by Prudential International. It is available to most international investors outside of main regulated territories such as the UK, the U.S.A. and Australia.
Minimums: Your lump-sum payment can be made in any freely convertible currency and has a minimum of £50,000 You can make additional lump-sum payments into your policy at any time. The minimum additional payment is GBP 5,000 or GBP 10,000 for the annual policy charge option. You can pay additional amounts via a number of different methods including credit card. There is no additional cost if you do choose to pay by card. You will be able to select from more than 150 funds from some of the world’s leading fund managers, and you won’t pay any initial fund charges.

There is a choice between an “establishment charge structure” and an “annual policy charge structure”.

Establishment Charge Structure: If the establishment charge structure is chosen, the establishment charge will apply. This can be 1% per annum for 10 years which means that on a £500,000 investment the charge will be £50,000 even if the fund decreases. There will be surrender costs of 10% reducing by 1% per year if the policy is encashed before the end of the 10 year establishment period.

Annual Policy Charge Structure: If the annual policy charge structure is chosen, then the initial charge and an annual policy charge will apply. The options are detailed below:
Option 1: You can opt to pay an upfront 7% initial charge (£35,000 on a £500,000 investment)
Option 2: You can opt to spread the initial charge over 5 years at 1.506% per year which equates to 7.53% (£500,000 x 1.506% x 5 years = 7.53% = £37,650.00). Both options also have 0.25% per annum, which means £1,250.00 for the life of the policy, although the actual amount is dependent on the initial investment or the value of the policy, which ever is the greater. Therefore over a 10 year period assuming no growth, the cost may be between £47,550 to £50,150.

Other Charges: There is also an administration charge of £98.00 per year for the life of the policy and a dealing charge of £29.00 for each purchase and sale of a fund. If you pay an additional amount into your Prudential International Investment Bond in a different currency, then there is a charge of £100.00 per transaction. Each change made within the policy once it has been established will incur a charge of £144.00.

If the account is overdrawn, then Prudential International will make an interest charge of 2% above the three-month London Interbank Rate (LIBOR). There can be stockbrokers fees when you buy and sell certain assets, you will not see them listed on the valuation however. The stockbroker’s fees are included in the total value shown for each sale or purchase and will be reflected in the trade contract note.

There will be external fund fees, these depend on the actual fund chosen and can be as high as 2% per annum. Additionally there may be an adviser charge to manage the portfolio, this typically can be between 1 to 1.5% per annum depending on the chosen advisers charging structure and service provided. If the Prudential International Investment Bond is used within a QROPS or SIPP then there will be additional set up and ongoing fees for the life of the policy.

Are charges explicit: By explicit, it means that it is clear to see not only the charges for taking out the plan but also the cost of funds annually, any upfront fund costs, penalties on access, etc. Yes, in the main the Prudential International Investment Bond charges are clearly shown and any professional should be able to interpret them. We have had feedback from clients though that they find it extremely difficult to interpret charges such as how any early access penalties would be calculated.

Surrender of the Prudential International Investment Bond: If you cash-in your policy during an initial charge period,an early cash-in charge will apply, essentially a five year surrender penalty on a reducing scale. The amount of this charge will be equal to the outstanding initial charges. This charge does not apply if the upfront initial charge period is chosen. Details on how it is treated is available in the relevant brochure. As an example, if the policy was encashed after two years, then there would be an 8% charge which equals to a £40,000 penalty plus any outstanding administration and dealing charges.It is important to be aware that the Prudential International Investment Bond is a long term savings plan.


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Quick Summary from TailorMade

Prudential are a large global company that for many years focuses on its Eastern operation. It has re-entered the EU scene with a wide range of products, some of which are competitive and some are not. Unfortunately the products are often of similar or the same name and it is vital to understand which you are dealing with. The Prudential International Investment Bond can be an expensive option compared with a pure platform custodian plan and supposed tax benefits can be outweighed by charges. However, its lower cost versions should be considered and it is vital that commission and its role is understood. Also, one option does not offer a full range of discounted funds, direct equities or trackers to invest in, whereas another can be linked to a platform. We only recommend the latter version. We do not recommend it within any form of pension planning.

The Prudential International Investment Bond wears two hats. If we were to only examine the best version of this product then we may be inclined to consider giving it more stars. Our concern is that whilst the better version may be marketed or disclosed by companies, that the alternative, and in our opinion, poorer charged and accessible version will be sold by salesman.

Commission (that charge which is paid by a bond provider to a salesman and is often not fully disclosed) plays a big part in the charges that a client will suffer.

If the adviser assisting you is prepared to work on a fee basis, thus ensuring commission is not a factor, then one version of the FPI Reserve Bond could be considered as a cost effective investment proposition for those requiring a bond wrapper (not a pension wrapper).

The standard Prudential International Investment Bond funds have high ongoing fees when directly compared to platform or direct offerings from fund houses via the UK or the USA. Some versions of the Prudential International Investment Bond can have high charges on early access. An attempt to take proceeds early in the plans life, will result in access penalties or higher charges on the remaining invested funds, or both.

The Prudential International Investment Bond should not be used within a QROPS, this is because when you start to draw your pension income the charges on the Prudential International Investment Bond may remain based on the original amount invested. This means that charges will rise pro rata as the capital decreases and therefore will erode the remaining capital at an exponential rate.

NOTE: The Prudential International Investment Bond provides the option of lump sum commission to its distributors (in the industry this is called indemnified or up-front commission) and it has a successful network of distributing agents throughout the world excluding the main regulated territories. Not all distributing agents have regulation or financial qualifications and may not be aware of the other options available.

Pensions (QROPS and SIPP) – If the Prudential International Investment Bond is used within a QROPS or SIPP then there will be additional set up and ongoing fees for the life of the policy. EME does not recommend this product for QROPS or SIPP investing.

WARNING: Costs and information is correct as of July 2016. Please refer to a brochure from the company for current up to date information and any changes on costs or information. You should not buy based purely on information contained within this article and EME do not accept liability for purchases. If you have any doubts then please speak with your financial adviser or a representative of the company for further advice.

If the provider improves or amends its terms then EME would like to hear from them to amend the review page accordingly, and providers are encouraged to comment on errors or omissions to ensure that readers have the latest and correct information.

You can view the details of the Prudential International Investment Bond and other plans here at an independent website.


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