Friends Life With Profits
RWP Research Findings, Overview and Comments
Friends Life is the company that now operates the With Profits Funds that were previously sold by a host of companies and names, some of which no longer exist in the market-place; the list includes AXA Sun Life; Sun Life; AXA Equity and Law; Friends Provident; Colonial Mutual; London and Manchester; Winterthur Life and NM Life Assurance Ltd.
This mixed bag of historic takeovers and mergers leads us to the Friends Life with profits funds that exist today. As with many other companies that have a long history of managing With Profits, there is a complete variation in how their various With Profits policies have performed and the current state of play.
A policyholder who took out an endowment with Friends Provident in 1990 may have a very different position and outlook to a policyholder who took out a With Profits Bond with Sun Life in 1998 as an example.
Both would be considered Friends Life with-profits policyholders but their positions could be wildly different – in many respects.
Their ‘bag’ also contains traditional (“conventional”) with-profits funds and more modern (“unitised” or “unit-linked”) with-profit funds.
In considering any company and its with-profits RWP will look to assess a range of factors which will include: the company’s management record; its transparency of information, its financial strength; its prospects for providing future returns and the nature of its with-profits approach.
We assess Friends Life as a company easy to deal with, providing transparency and they are financially strong. However in reviewing policies for With Profits investors we see a wide mix of past performance, depending on when a policy was taken out and what type of policy it is. Some past performance is poor; some is good. Some policies have compelling reasons to hold onto them, some are clearly risky with limited reward and offer policyholders limited value. On balance we feel many Friends Life policies represent the better end of the market; avoiding some of the difficulties other providers have experienced.
However this should not breed complacency as with any company, your position will be dependent on a range of factors - you may be holding something solid or something flaky; we recommend if you hold a With Profits policy it should be fully reviewed on its own merits to judge how it is has performed and its future prospects.
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Company ownership position
Friends Life is now part of Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer. Their with-profits funds are still separately branded (under ‘Friends Life’) and are managed individually (i.e. not as part of the Aviva with-profits stable). They have seven separate legal entities which make up the Friends Life brand. The with-profits funds sit underneath the company Friends Life Limited.
Friends Life is a business today which is an amalgam of many recent takeovers, mergers and other corporate arrangements.
In essence it is roots largely trace back to the insurance company known as Friends Provident; which was well known for its Quaker associations. Some of their fund management still reflects this original connection, via its Stewardship funds.
The modern Friends Life however is effectively a mass merger of multiple with-profits funds originally run by a disparate group of companies including companies such as Sun Life and London and Manchester.
Friends Life With Profits Funds
They have several with-profits funds or ‘sub’ funds sitting within the Friends Life Limited structure and the way this is constituted is complex and beyond the scope of this summary. The important element here is that all their funds sit within a ‘Long Term Fund’ and this fund has the backing of Friends Life Limited and beyond that Aviva. The actual management, performance and other features of each fund can be found by using the links below or please contact us and we can help you get all the individual information on your policy.
For the latest with-profits bonus information please click here:
For information on how Friends Life approach the management of their with-profits, including their current asset allocation mix and customer friendly documents on each product type please click here: