Most of us like to save a little extra for those unexpected expensive events but have problems deciding where to put the money.
For expats, savings plans are one solution and several international financial companies offer products to fill the gap – and the Friends Provident International Premier Advance Savings Plan is among the market leaders.
Just like other expat savings plans, the idea is not to replace a UK SIPP or QROPS pensions but to provide an accessible place to put aside regular extra cash.
Review of Friends Provident International Premier Advance Savings Plan
The Friends Provident International Premier Advance Savings Plan has a lot of flexible features for expats whose lives change quickly as they move between countries and jobs.
The Premier Advance is a unit-linked savings plans that offers several flexible options for expats who want to set aside money at regular intervals.
Whether the plan is right for you depends on your age, tax planning and other personal circumstances, such as how long and how much you wish to save.
Savers should also consider how they want to invest within the plan and choose a currency for denominating their cash.
The tax benefits of an offshore savings plan are not the same in every country.
Who are Friends Provident?
Friends Provident is a well-known financial brand for expats, selling savings, investment and protection plans across the United Arab Emirates and Asia.
The company has 500 staff across offices in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Isle of Man.
The brand is owned by Royal London 360, a subsidiary of the International Financial Group (IFGL).
The company has more than 70,000 policyholders and manages at least US$10 billion of assets for customers.
Benefits for expats
If your personal profile means saving with the Friends Provident International Premier Advance Savings Plan is a viable option for you, you should expect to take advantage of several features and benefits.
They should apply if you are saving for a specific event, like education fees, a wedding or buying a home as well as building extra savings for retirement alongside a pension.
Whatever your intentions, here are some of the details of the Friends Provident International Premier Advance Savings Plan you need to know about:
Who can take out the plan?
As the savings plan has an element of life protection, you can set up the plan yourself, on someone else, such as a partner or spouse or on up to four joint lives.
Savers must be aged 18 or over, but less than 70 years old at the start of the plan, while one saver must be less than 76 years old when the plan is due to end.
Savers can choose the plan length – from five to 25 years.
At set-up, savers can choose the plan’s currency denomination from US dollars, UK pounds, Euros, Hong Kong dollars or UAE dirhams.
If payments are made regularly, they can be made monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly.
The plan has options for increasing payments.
Monthly minimum savings depend on the frequency of paying premiums, but the least amount a saver can pay monthly is the equivalent of US$300. Payment increases must be more than US$50 a month.
Additional lump sums can be paid in as long as they are US$3,000 or more.
Changing premiums or making lump sums may be subject to a five-year time
Accessing the money
If having access to your cash before the savings term ends is important, then this is where the Friends Provident International Premier Advance Savings Plan has some great flexibility.
Savers can cash in the plan when they wish – but an early redemption charge may apply.
Rather than end the plan, many savers take money from their plans as one-off withdrawals or regular income payments.
The plan has a wide range of funds with the latest prices, key features and other information available online.
Savers can invest in up to 10 funds at any one time in US dollars, British pounds or euros.
As a unit-linked fund, the first 18 months are considered the initial allocation. After that, the premiums buy accumulation units.
Investors have the option to switch funds when they want.
The plan charges
Like most savings solutions, the Friends Provident International Premier Advance Savings Plan takes a fee for administering the plan and another for managing the funds.
Expect to pay:
- A 1.5% quarterly product charge and a monthly charge of US$6
- An annual fund charge of 1.2% of the plan value
- Probable additional fund charges set by the manager
Other charges may arise for savers paying their premiums by credit card and lump sum payments.
After the first 18 months of the savings plan, payments can be suspended for up to 12 months or the plan can be ‘paid up’ without the need for any further payments.
Charges are still taken and the value of the plan will vary as funds rise and fall.
The Friends Provident International Premier Advance Savings Plan has a loyalty bonus applied after 10 years of full premium payment.
The bonus is 0.5% and is applied monthly from the 10th anniversary of set-up forward as long as the agreed payments are maintained.
What if the plan ends early?
Savers can cash in their policies after the first 18 months, but are likely to lose their bonus payments and face early redemption charges.
If a saver dies, the plan pays 1% on top of the cash-in value on death.