Neil Martin talks to Paul Fidell, Head of Business Development (Investments) at Prudential, who wants to send a message to advisers about bonds.
It wouldn’t be fair to say that Paul Fidell, Head of Business Development (Investments) at Prudential, is a man with a single mission in life, but he is very keen to talk to advisers about bonds.
And the message is, don’t forget about them. He admits that bonds might have had a rough time of late, but Fidell is out to “…remind people that they haven’t gone away.”
He recalls that a few years ago, he and his team ran a campaign which was called Bond is Back and referenced a certain famous film star. It gave the team’s presentations a great way to head up their message says Fidell and although they have no plans to resurrect that campaign, because the sentiment expressed then remains the same, for Fidell and his team, the bond has never really gone away. It has always been the case that in certain situations, bonds make a great deal of sense for advisers’ clients.
The problem is, reckons Fidell, that bonds are perceived as being somewhat old world, compared to the many other investment opportunities available.
What’s more, Fidell reckons that the bond has been unfairly treated, especially when compared to a collective investment. The appeal of collectives has increased over the years, following successive budgets, even though bonds still have added tax benefits.
The backdrop is a bond market which has shrunk over the last seven years. However, during this time, the Prudential brand remains a market leader and has actually increased its share in many of the sub-sectors, including both onshore and offshore bonds. With profits has always been a traditional area of strength for Prudential and this remains just as strong today. Fidell believes that Prudential has a rounded offering, with a full suite of trusts (including PIB); tax and trust expertise and support; funds that supports clients’ attitude to risk/capacity for loss; and, on/off platform solutions to fit a client’s different planning needs.
Fidell stressed that even though he might be a fan of the bond, and it’s a vehicle favoured by Prudential which obviously has an empathy with the market, he has no axe to grind and does not enter into a hard sales routine when talking to advisers.
Fidell believes that the benefits of bonds speak for themselves, as long as people are listening. He believes that investment bonds continue to play a crucial role in financial planning and are particularly good for clients who have particular requirements, including:
- potential for growth on their investment over the medium to long term;
- range of withdrawal options including fixed levels, or ad hoc;
- suitable investment vehicle for estate planning;
- range of funds available to help address their attitude to risk and investment goals;
- place to invest surplus company cash;
- position firmly within client planning process with benefit-led messages (including tax efficient withdrawals and deferral; fund switching – ease of administration; estate planning and trusts – launched July; availability of funds not on platforms; and, use for corporate investing).
Although you won’t get the hard sell from Fidell, he does like to think that they are ‘friends’ to advisers and make available a great deal of support material.
Bond may not be quite back as yet, but he’s certainly waiting in the wings.