Utmost Apex France Assurance Vie Review 2022. Utmost International is a leading provider of insurance-based wealth solutions operating in the UK, Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Utmost acquired Quilter International December 2021, and recently launched it’s own Assurance Vie product for the French market.
As Assurance Vie’s are one of the most popular investment products for French residents, we thought it would be helpful to review the Utmost offering.
What is an Assurance Vie?
An Assurance Vie is a life insurance product that holds underlying investments and also provides significant tax benefits in France.
Utmost Apex France Review 2022
Utmost PanEurope is registered in Ireland and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. They are also authorised for the pursuit of life insurance business on a freedom to provide service basis, and is registered for such purposes with the French Prudential Control and Resolution Authority.
Cost / Charging Structure:
- The Apex France LA has no initial set up fee
- Ongoing product management charge of 0.55% per annum
- Administration charge of EUR 150 per quarter (EUR 600 per annum)
- Early discontinuance charge of 1% in year 1 and 0.5% in year 2
- Withdrawal charge of EUR 250 chargeable after the first 4 withdrawals in a policy year
- Dealing charge of GBP 27 or currency equivalent
At Harrison Brook, we charge on a clean and transparent basis. The Apex France LA allows for this charging structure. However, they also do operate on a commission basis which is something to watch out for if you take out a policy with another adviser.
Fund Range / Investment Choice:
There is a wide range of investments available within the Apex France LA, from listed shares, bonds, and collective investment funds (OEICs/Investment Trusts/ETFs). Apex France also have terms with Discretionary Fund Managers (DFM’s) which have different model portfolio’s available depending on your risk appetite.
Minimum Initial Premium – EUR 100,000/ GBP 90,000 / USD 110,000
Minimum Additional Premium – EUR – 20,000 / GBP 18,000 / USD 22,000
Minimum Regular Withdrawal – EUR – 300 / GBP 270 / USD 330
Minimum Single Withdrawal – EUR – 500 / GBP 450 / USD 550
Minimum Amount That Must Be Kept In Your Policy – EUR – 15,000 / GBP 13,500 / USD 16,500
As you can see above, the initial premium level is reasonably high so you would need enough investable assets to meet the minimum. It’s also important to plan ahead with your withdrawals considering the minimums on how much you can take out.
As mentioned above, the exit penalties on the Apex France LA are dependent on how your policy is set up; either on a ‘clean’ basis or a ‘commission’ basis.
On a ‘clean’ basis, there is a year 1 discontinuation charge of 1% (of the initial premium) which drops to 0.5% in year two and zero thereafter. At Harrison Brook, we only charge on a clean basis so we are not aware of the exit penalties for other charging structures. Typically, on a commission basis, the exit penalties are correlated to the percentage of commission your adviser has taken – it’s, therefore, prudent to ensure your adviser fully disclosed any exit penalties prior to taking out a policy.
Any growth (capital and dividends reinvested) is tax-free. You only pay tax when you make withdrawals from the policy. The following table summarises the taxation of the Assurance Vie for contracts taken out after 27 September 2017:
|Contract length||Income Tax||Social Charges||Total charges|
You also receive the annual allowance of €4,600 (€9,200 if married) for contracts held longer than 8 years. You can also make an election to have your income taxed according to your marginal rate (so it’s included with your other income for the tax year). This can be a beneficial election to make if you have low levels of income for the year.
Furthermore, on investments up to €152,500, no IHT is payable by the beneficiaries on your death.
- Access to a wide range of investments
- Option for clean charging structure (depending on the financial adviser used)
- Reasonably low product/administration charges
- Flexibility – no restriction on when withdrawals can be made
- High level of regulation through the Central Bank of Ireland
- Potential for policies to be set up on a ‘commission’ paying basis
- Exit penalties for the first two years – potentially more if commission is paid to the financial adviser
- Reasonably high withdrawal charge after the first 4 withdrawals in a policy year
- High minimum investment limit
Overall, the Utmost Apex France LA is a product that combines reasonable costs with flexibility and investment choice. Unlike French Banks, who only offer investments tied to their bank, the Apex France LA has a wide range of investments available. The bond also can be converted to a UK Offshore Bond if you decide to return to the UK in the future.
If you are a French resident who is thinking of opening an Assurance Vie, please feel free to get in touch to discuss the product in further detail to see if it’s the right solution for you.