The PEP providers

Abtrust began in the 1870s financing Scottish farmers opening up the Canadian prairies. Today it manages assets worth pounds 2.7bn, of which the PEP and unit trust business accounts for almost pounds 800m. Minimum investment: pounds 500 or pounds 25 monthly. Phone: 01224 631999.

Barclays Unicorn manages PEPs worth pounds 1.3bn, and is the largest provider of corporate bond plans. The second edition of its guaranteed PEP, with a five-year "capital back" offer, closes on 5 February. 0800 374 373.

Credit Suisse is one of the world's largest financial services organisations, with assets of more than pounds 150bn. All its UK funds have strong track records. 0171 426 2929.

Foreign & Colonial is another of the fund managers that financed the expansion of the British empire. Today its unit trust business has pounds 766m under management. Minimum investment: pounds 500. 0171 628 8000.

Fidelity is the world's largest fund manager and next month its UK arm celebrates 10 years as a pioneer PEP provider, with 26 funds worth a total of pounds 2.7bn. Minimum investment: pounds 500 or pounds 30 monthly. 0800 414161.

Friends Provident has just launched a new ethical PEP through its Blue Line direct sales operation. It was founded 150 years ago by the Society of Friends and now manages assets of pounds 15bn. The pounds 700m Stewardship funds invest in companies that make a positive contribution to society and avoid those that harm the world, its people or its wildlife. 0800 000080.

Gartmore, acquired last year by NatWest Bank, has grown from pounds 7bn under management to almost pounds 25bn in less than 10 years. Its PEP product range includes the successful Pepit investment trust plan. Minimum investment: pounds 1,000 or pounds 50 monthly. 0800 289336.

Guinness Flight has a range of specialist funds, including the Extra Income Trust - a split- capital trust which is high risk/high reward. At the other end of the risk index, the Value Bond PEP has a portfolio that is AA credit rated. 0171 522 2109.

Hill Samuel is becoming increasingly competitive under the new ownership of Lloyds Bank, with 20 unit trusts worth pounds 1.4bn. Minimum investment: pounds 500. 0171 203 3000.

Jupiter, now part of the German Commerzbank group, is a fast-growing fund manager with an impressive performance in recent years. Assets under management now exceed pounds 5bn. Minimum investment: pounds 500. 0171 581 3020.

M&G is in the big league of London fund managers, with pounds 15bn under management, and regularly collects awards for its range of unit trusts. Minimum investment: pounds 500 or pounds 40 monthly. 0171 626 4588.

Perpetual has won more investment awards than any other fund management group, with a range of funds that are consistent top performers. Funds under management now exceed pounds 5bn. Minimum investment pounds 500. 01491 416123.

Scottish Widows, best known for its life and pensions business, has funds of pounds 1.2bn and a range of PEPs including the Safety Plus plan, with a guaranteed minimum selling price. Minimum investment: pounds 500 or pounds 50 monthly. 0131 655 3555.

Virgin Direct was a catalyst in bringing down management charges with its successful growth and income PEPs. Minimum investment: pounds 1,000 or pounds 50 monthly. 0345 959595.

q Source: Autif and company information. Figures for funds under management may refer to PEP and unit trust business or total assets.

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