‘Platform vital to Sipp providers’

‘Platform vital to Sipp providers’

Self-invested personal pension (Sipp) providers will need to either have a platform or a strong partnership with a platform to survive in the future, according to the chief executive of Embark Group.

Phil Smith – whose Sipp firm uses platform technology provider FNZ – said over the past five years the market has shifted focus, forcing firms to adapt.

Retirement solutions, prices, Isas and general investment accounts, are priorities, with brokerage services – traditionally a large part of the business – becoming the ancillaries.

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Mr Smith said: “You can only take advantage of that if you have fundamental technology running right the way through your business, and if you have the expertise to play the trustee role as a pension provider and a nominee role and investment administrator, which is our design.

“Most of the platform providers of the past 10 years do not have a good pension offering at all, so providers coming into the market now have a great pension offering, which can do all the things a fund supermarket has done, at a price which is significantly different.”

He added that bigger Sipp players in the market that did not have platforms would have to make bold investments to buy the platform technology for their own business.

Mr Smith suggested collaborative partnerships would emerge between one or two of the big pension players and one or two of the current platform market providers.

Paul Matthews, UK and Europe chief executive at Standard Life, agreed this was “inevitable”.

He said: “Eighty per cent of all advised business is now done by a platform. The way that customers want to interact in today’s world – everyone wants access to technology.”

But Martin Tilley, director of technical services at Sipp provider Dentons Pensions, said bespoke Sipp providers such as his firm would hold their own against the bigger players.

He added: “The bespoke Sipp providers – which, of course, Embark acquired out of Hornbuckle and Rowanmoor – have said ‘we charge a specific fee for the job we have been doing’, which has worked as a model in the past. We are living proof that it has worked.”