MONTREAL, Nov. 29, 2011 – The Standard Life Assurance Company of Canada (“Standard Life”) today announced three changes to its group and retail offering in order to continue sharpening its strategic focus on the long-term savings and investment market. Employers can now add socially responsible investment (SRI) funds to investment options for any Standard Life group savings and retirement plan. Retail customers now have access to new simplified Ideal Term Funds. Effective January 1, 2012, Standard Life will stop selling its individual life insurance and critical illness products but will continue to service its in-force block of life insurance business.
“Today’s announcement is another step in Standard Life’s strategy to focus on the activities which have the best potential for sustainable growth,” said Joseph Iannicelli, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are committed to continuing to deliver the same level of service to our current policyholders and advisors for which Standard Life has been recognized over the years. This change will help us speed up the growth of the three business segments where we’re most competitive, and to respond to customer needs with products such as our new Ideal Term Funds and SRI funds.”
Standard Life will continue to include life insurance coverage in its group benefits offering. It will no longer sell individual universal life insurance, term insurance, whole life insurance and critical illness insurance.
At the end of 2010, the individual life insurance business of The Standard Life Assurance Company of Canada consisted of 202,000 policies; it represented 3.5% of the Company’s total premiums and deposits of $5 billion, and 1.4% of its total new business.
More options for group plan members to invest responsibly
Standard Life is now offering four individual Meritas SRI Funds for group savings and retirement plans. Employers and their advisors can include these investment options immediately as part of a customized plan or, starting at the end of 2011, through the new Monitored Avenue Portfolio Program™ – Socially Responsible Investment options (MAPP-SRI options). Standard Life chose funds for the MAPP-SRI options to provide long-term returns that aim to meet the needs of socially responsible investors and proper diversification amongst asset classes.
As a result of the combination of Standard Life’s MAPP and SRI funds, it will be the first time that group plan members can choose socially responsible investments tailored to their own unique risk profile and time to retirement. They will also have the comfort of knowing that their portfolio is subject to an automatic lifecycle and portfolio rebalancing and to Standard Life’s Quality & Choice™ Investment Program’s governance process.
A recent survey conducted for Standard Life found that a third (32%) of Canadian investors said they are “very” or “somewhat” interested in SRIs, and 55% indicated that they would consider SRIs if the return was “as good or better” than other investments. Various Canadian and US studies show that, contrary to popular belief, the performance of SRI funds has been similar to that of traditional indices in the last few years.
Simplified Ideal Term Funds
To address the low-interest rate environment, Standard Life is introducing new savings and retirement income Ideal Term Funds which are secure and deliver predictable income. The new products are simplified, easy to understand and redeemable prior to maturity. They will appeal to investors who are looking for an alternative to banks’ guaranteed investment certificates and Canada Savings Bonds.
- Key business segments of Standard Life are retail investment funds and group defined contribution retirement plans as well as group benefits and disability management.
- In September 2011, Standard Life introduced three Meritas SRI Funds to its family of retail segregated funds.
- Meritas SRI Funds is part of the Qtrade Financial Group. For over 10 years, it has been devoted solely to creating and marketing socially responsible investments for individuals, and also for corporations, endowments, foundations, pension plans and other large investors. Meritas uses positive and negative screening guidelines, shareholder activism and community development investments.
- Monitored Avenue Portfolio Program™ (MAPP) is a long-term, multi-manager investment solution where group retirement plan members can choose investments tailored to their own unique risk profile and time to retirement, knowing Standard Life experts are overseeing the asset allocation, specific fund selection and the portfolio re-alignment on a regular basis.
MAPP-SRI options is Standard Life’s fourth MAPP solution. MAPP 1, 2 and 3 provide broad market representation and proper diversification both amongst and within each asset class. MAPP 2 also includes a dividend fund in the pre-set Avenue Portfolio offering to generate slightly more income, while the guaranteed funds included in the more conservative and shorter periods mean lower expected volatility. MAPP 3 combines passive investment funds to provide long-term capital growth and deliver returns that will mirror the underlying benchmark.
- Details on the Ideal Term Funds are available at http://advisors.standardlife.ca/en/products/investment/term/index.html
About Standard Life
Standard Life plc is a leading long-term savings and investment company headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland. Standard Life has around 6 million customers worldwide and operates in the United Kingdom, Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, and globally with Standard Life Investments Ltd.
In Canada, Standard Life has been doing business for 178 years. Standard Life Financial Inc., which wholly owns The Standard Life Assurance Company of Canada and Standard Life Mutual Funds Ltd., is Standard Life plc’s largest operation outside the UK. With about 2,000 employees, it provides long-term savings, investment and insurance solutions to more than 1.4 million Canadians, including group benefit and retirement plan members.
As of September 30, 2011, Standard Life plc had $310 billion in assets under administration, including $40 billion in Canada through Standard Life Financial. www.standardlife.ca