Innovative retirement income products launched

Retriement piggy bank

Both L&G's Retirement Income Multi-Asset fund and Aegon's High Income fund are invested across a range of asset classes and regions, and are designed to suit investors in the years approaching and during retirement.

April 2015's pension shake-up, announced in last March's Budget, will create new opportunities for people to leave their pension fund invested while taking a retirement income from it - effectively an unrestricted form of the current income drawdown option.

Aegon argues that in this increasingly flexible and 'phased' retirement landscape, people are keen to take control of their own pension destiny, rather than committing it all to a rigid, restrictive annuity.

Moreover, they are likely to start income from their pension pots before they stop working and earning entirely.

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Capital growth

And they may well also have to cater for a retirement that could last 30 years or more, so they need to consider capital security and growth as well as income stream.

These trends are shaping the new investment products coming to the market and targeting the pre-retirement and retirement market.

Aegon's High Income fund is managed by its sister company Kames Capital and will be badged on external fund platforms as the Kames Diversified Income fund.

It invests in a mix of bonds, UK and global equity and property, but unusually, up to 30% is in high-yielding alternative assets with low correlation to bonds and equities, such as aircraft leasing and Asian property.

The aim, says Aegon's investment director Nick Dixon, is "to generate a gently rising and dependable income, even if the capital value may fluctuate over time".

The fund was producing a running yield of 5.3% as at the end of July, but the long-term target is a 5% yield plus 2-3% capital growth after charges, to give a total return of around 7-8% that will enable it to keep pace with inflation over the decades of retirement.

"We are seeing opportunities across a range of asset classes," says Vincent McEntegart, fund manager at Kames Capital. "For example, in terms of equities the fund has a bias towards financials as many insurers and some banks are currently paying attractive dividends and declaring healthy increases in their dividends.

"We are also invested in listed real estate funds mainly in the US, Europe and Asia, which are providing income from rents on commercial property. Closer to home we have invested in UK-based supersize warehouses which act as distribution hubs for large retailers."

Employer schemes

The L&G product is a conventional unit-linked pension fund, and fund manager Martin Dietz explains that it will be on offer through employer pension schemes and the platforms they use.

"We're aiming to provide this as a simple, risk-managed, drawdown solution for those with smaller pension pots of perhaps £20,000 plus, who don't have the money to take advice or go into a Sipp," he says.

"It's our response to the growth in demand for income drawdown: it combines a low-risk, diversified multi-asset approach plus the kind of cash-flow focus you'd see in the running of an annuity."

The fund is invested in the firm's in-house index tracker funds alongside some of its actively managed funds, thereby keeping costs down.

It targets a return of base rate plus 3.5% (after an annual management charge of 0.35%) over a five to seven-year market cycle, with less than half the volatility of developed economies' equity markets.

"People in retirement want a stable outflow and sustainable income above all; we focus on short-term cash flow management to provide the income they require," adds Dietz.

However, because over the longer term cash flows are less certain, and people are likely to want more than the natural income generated by the fund at some points in their retirement, they will also be free to take whatever income they need, potentially running down the capital over time.

It's likely that both the retail fund platforms used by Sipp investors and the pension fund platforms available via occupational schemes will see more innovation along these lines in the coming months.

This article was written for our sister website Money Observer

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