The Lifeplan Investment Bond (formerly Lifeplan NextGen Investments) has been upgraded from “recommended” to “highly recommended” by Zenith Investment Partners in its latest review.
In its report, Zenith said it views the Bond's investment menu as robust, providing a well diversified suite of investment managers, asset classes and investment styles.
“There are many different applications for the Bond due to its legal and tax structure. In Zenith’s view, this is one of the key strengths of the product.
“We also believe Lifeplan's management personnel are highly experienced and capable, providing us with a high level of conviction in the product.”
Zenith also commented on the bond’s Wealth Preserver (WP) feature. This feature, unique to the Lifeplan offering, is a nominated beneficiary feature that enables strategies usually only available through a trust structure. It allows the bond owner to control the timing, distribution and frequency of benefits to nominated beneficiaries after their death, outside the Will structure so it is not affected by any challenges or issues with the Will.
Zenith said that it “sees the WP as an innovative addition to an Investment Bonds already comprehensive structural benefits and view the feature as an impressive intergenerational wealth transfer tool”.
Matt Walsh, General Manager of Life and Super at Australian Unity, said the Zenith rating comes on the back of a solid year for the Bond.
“This include upgrades to our digital tools for investors and advisers, improvement to rebates for high net worth investors, an expanded menu, increased team to service advisers and increasing support from the market as evidenced by our continued increase in market share.
“Enhancements to the Lifeplan Investment Bond are part of an ongoing strategy of improving our products and services for advisers and investors,” he said.
Zenith has also given the Lifeplan Education Bond a ‘recommended’ rating in its first review.
It said: “In Zenith’s opinion, the Fund provides a compelling option for those seeking a tax-efficient savings solution for educational requirements.
“Zenith believes that the key attraction is the high level of flexibility around the types of education which are eligible for the specific tax treatment of Scholarship Plans and the non-proscriptive nature of student eligibility. We also believe Lifeplan's management personnel are highly experienced and capable, providing us with a high level of conviction in the product.”
Mr Walsh said the Lifeplan Education Bond is a hidden gem in the wealth management industry.
“It is a competitive and contemporary product that gives families access to important tax benefits. It's also a great way for advisers to demonstrate the value of advice to younger clients, who want help achieving their medium term goals and meeting cost of living challenges.
"There remains a lot of mythology about scholarship fund style products. Our education bond is a consumer-first product with a compelling tax advantage.
“We've democratised access to a very valuable tax benefit which the Federal Government allows for parents and grandparents saving for a child's education - and what can be more important than that?
“On top of this, we have provided investment choice, flexibility and no penalties. This product is a true myth buster.”
Lifeplan is a specialist business of Australian Unity Investments. It is a market leader in investment bonds and funeral bonds, and a leading provider of education investment funds.