Zurich’s platform head hopes for end to fee fiasco

Zurich’s platform head hopes for end to fee fiasco

This year has been one of back and forth between platform fee structures as the market matures, according to Zurich’s head of retail platform strategy Alistair Wilson, who is hoping for greater clarity in 2015.

During 2014 some platforms lowered the percentage points charged against assets, while others removed fixed costs, or made changes to drawdown fees and capped maximum fees.

“There remains no let-up in the variety of ways charges are presented to the market and perhaps 2015 will see greater clarity from other parts of the industry,” Wilson told FTAdviser.

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He explained that over the course of the year Zurich saw the culmination of many months of work on the implementation of changes to the rules on unit and cash rebates and the unbundling of platform fees.

“The sunset clause offers rest bite for some, but with the legislation banning the retention of rebates by platforms for existing assets coming into force from April 2016, more change is just around the corner.

“The changes announced in the Budget - increasing the government actuary’s department rates for drawdown levels to 150 per cent from 120 per cent - gave little time for implementation. This coupled with new Isa contribution limits meant there was no stop in the groundwork needed to be ready in time.”

The other major industry trend of the last 12 months was that of outsourcing, whether it be looking for new investment solutions from discretionary fund managers or multi-asset funds, through to platforms looking to change their IT suppliers and re-platform.

“We will see what the New Year has in store for the re-platformers, but key will be to keep clients and advisers front of mind, supporting them through the process,” commented Wilson.

As outsourcing continues to gather pace, so do questions around the level of research undertaken by advisers in arriving at their solution.

“We are seeing broader and deeper questioning from advisers looking to get under the skin of platforms. Getting into the detail is vitally important and should lead to a greater understanding of the impact on clients.

“I have heard it said a number of times, ‘if I knew then what I know now…’ - we wait with interest for the regulator’s findings following their thematic review on due diligence of retail investment advice next quarter.”

Mr Wilson concluded that 2015 promises to be a landmark year for the industry, while also being an extremely busy one.

“With further announcements relating to pensions and savings in the Autumn Statement, the focus for us and for customers is to keep pace with the level of change, stressing the need for advice once more.”