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REVIEW SUMMARY

Friends Provident International Ultra Advance Savings Plan

Friends Provident International has over 40 years of experience in the international life assurance market. They provide savings, investment and protection solutions to customers in Asia and the UAE.

They have offices in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Isle of Man. 

Friends Provident International is part of IFGL.

IFGL provides investment, savings and protection solutions to international investors around the world and the group comprises RL360, RL360 Services, Ardan International and Friends Provident International.

The group employs 650 staff and administers assets of US$24 billion for 210,000 customers (figures as at 31/12/2020).

Please note, the Friends Provident International Ultra Advance is closed to new business. 

Our Verdict
A Closer Look
FAQs
Customer Reviews

Ultra Advance is a unit-linked, regular payment savings plan designed to be held as a medium to long-term investment.

The Ultra Advance savings plan's terms are between 5 and 25 years.

The key features of Friends Provident International's Ultra Advance savings plan includes:

  • Loyalty bonus: A loyalty bonus of 0.5% is payable after year 10.
  • Multi currency: The FPI Ultra Advance may be denominated in US dollar, GB pound, Hong Kong dollar, Euro and UAE dirhams. Benefits will be paid in the plan currency.
  • Minimum amounts: £1,000 per month or currency equivalent. You can pay additional amounts via a number of different methods including credit card. Payment by credit card into the FPI Ultra Advance will result in a charge of 1% additional cost.
  • Investment choices: A range of funds selected by Friends Provident International risk-rated funds covering all the major world markets and investment classes. The funds section contains performance statistics that are updated monthly, fund prices that are updated daily and a Fund Fact Sheet about each fund.

The plan risks stated on the brochure include:

  • charges (which could go up),
  • investment performance (investments could see the value of your plan go down) and
  • any requirement for you to withdraw money during the term.

The costs of Friends Provident International's Ultra Advance savings plan includes a significant surrender charge which applies for the initial period.

This period depends on the total duration of your plan - but canceling before the end will always incur penalties.

Other plan charges include:

  • Surrender charges: These are deliberately complex, but, for example, if you decided to leave a 25 year plan after 5 years, you would lose 81% of the initial value from this deduction alone.
  • An initial charge of 1.5% is taken each quarter from the initial unit holding over the term of the plan.
  • A monthly plan charge of £4 (or equivalent currency) is also applicable.
  • There is an annual fund administration charge of 1.2% of the plan value.
  • Additional lump-sum payments are charged at 7% (somewhat disguised as an ‘allocation rate’).
  • Charges of 1.5% per quarter (6% per annum) must be paid on the initial unit holdings. This applies throughout the term of the plan.
  • Ongoing charges of $6 per month (or currency equivalent) are also applicable.

Other Charges like an annual management charge and other fund expenses are imposed by the underlying fund manager and the amount depends on which fund is chosen.

Plan holders must invest in mirror funds.

These are Friends Provident International branded copies of other funds.

The mirrored funds are built and managed by dedicated companies, Friends Provident International charges extra to copy them. This costs 1.2% added to the underlying fund costs of up to 3 or 3.5%.

NOTE:

  • The plan will not have a cash-in value until you have paid at least 12 months’ worth of payments.
  • We understand that there are also heavy encashment penalties after 12 months depending on the original term of the policy and when you want to access it.
  • These penalties pay for the commissions earned up front by your salesman.
  • The Friends Provident International Ultra Advance is expensive compared to the alternatives and far less flexible.
  • The supposed tax benefits can also be outweighed by charges and lost through early encashment penalties.
  • The penalties in the first 12 months are extremely high and will effectively wipe out any money saved in that time.
  • We would highly recommend reading the 'expert verdict' section of this review in order to make an informed decision.

Additionally, here's a free guide that can help you achieve better results. In this guide, you'll learn:

  • Academic evidence only shared with a select few firms across the world
  • A real-life example of why you should never try to outguess the market
  • Why a fund's past performance is not enough to predict future returns
  • Why you need to focus on what you can control and why this leads to a better investment experience
  • Why you should accept the markets for what they are
  • What can impact behaviour and make people seek instant gratification

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The Pros

> Established brand name
> Size and administrative capability
> Potential for better than bank rate return if all contributions are made throughout the term

The Cons

> Inflexible
> Potentially opaque and complex charging structure
> Expensive way to invest
> Easily mis-represented at the point of sale
Can I get out of my FPI Ultra Advance savings plan early?

Yes, you can get out of your FPI Ultra Advance savings plan early.

However, you will incur a financial penalty, and depending on how long you have left to save and the performance of your plan to date, it may - or may not - make financial sense for you to do so.

In the majority of cases we see, it is financially beneficial to exit. But we can only give you personalised advice after reviewing your policy.

Will my IFA have received commission when he sold me this?

Yes - and the commission received will effectively wipe out your early years' payments. 

We would highly recommend reading the expert verdict to learn more.

Are there better options available for regular saving?

Yes, there are many better options available for regular savings.

The FPI Ultra Advance has been superseded by much more flexible, cheaper and effective alternatives. 

Depending on things like how much you want to save, your tolerance for risk and your investment timeline, there maybe many better options open to you.

Mis-leading charges by the IFA

It's hard to admit that I didn't have a clue about how much my adviser was being paid.

I was naive and only realised it when I tried to cash it in early due to a change in my circumstances.

 

Expert assessment of Friends Provident International Ultra Advance savings plan

The good news is that the Friends Provident International Ultra Advance is closed to new business.

But for anyone already invested, the high costs erode your returns and the available fund range is unsatisfactory.

It is easy for these products to be badly misrepresented at the point of sale and more flexible, more open architecture and simpler plans are now available.

If you already hold a Friends Provident International Ultra Advance plan and it is worth approximately £250,000 or more, we strongly recommend you seek a Second Opinion to ensure you are on track to get and keep the life you want.

GET A SECOND OPINION

Friends Provident International Ultra Advance Brochure

Friends Provident International Ultra Advance Product Description

Friends Provident International Mirror Fund Costs

Friends Provident International Ultra Advance Past Isle of Man Fund Performance

Friends Provident International Ultra Advance Wealth Capital Redemption Contract Conditions

Friends Provident International Ultra Advance Wealth Capital Redemption Application Form

Friends Provident International Ultra Advance Application Form

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