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Aviva’s platform charges change is causing confusion

Aviva’s platform charges change is causing confusion

Aviva has admitted that a change to its platform's treatment of cash following the recent replatforming has caused confusion among advisers.

Advisers have complained after noticing Aviva selling down assets from their clients portfolios in order to pay charges and questioned why this hasn't been paid from cash.

One adviser told FTAdviser their client had "hundreds of thousands" in cash which hadn't been touched but said Aviva had disinvested assets instead.

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But a spokesman for Aviva said this stems from a change in how charges are now paid following the replatforming and acknowledged that the company "could have done more" to explain the practical implications of the change.

A spokesman for Aviva said: "We recognise that the change has caused some confusion and are working to support advisers where they require more information."

On the previous platform, cash held on the platform was targeted first for paying fees and charges and if there wasn't enough of this, cash held in a client's portfolio was then used.

The spokesman for Aviva said: "This is no longer the case. Cash is now treated as an asset in its own right and cannot be used to pay fees and charges or withdrawals.

"Product cash is still targeted first for paying fees and charges, and if there is insufficient to pay, assets in the model will be disinvested proportionally to cover the charges (including model cash).

"We believe treating cash as an asset can be a reasonable thing to do from an investment perspective and we can maintain the integrity of the model where an adviser wants this.

"However, this means that advisers will need to ensure enough cash is held outside the model to cover charges if they don't want disinvestment to occur."

Aviva said the new system was consistent with the platform's existing terms and conditions so no change was needed but it has provided "additional clarity" in the FAQ section on its platform website.

Mike Barrett, consulting director at the Lang Cat, said the change would likely have been brought about by the move onto FNZ's technology as part of the replatforming.

He said: "This stuff happens and it is a good example of how advisers need to engage with the details. Though perhaps Aviva could have done more to highlight the key issues."

But Chris Durant, a financial adviser with The Medical Partnership, said the first he heard about the issue was when Aviva started selling down his client's assets.

He said: "I was given a document by Aviva back in 2011 to 2012 that said you should allocate 2 per cent to cash to pay for charges and I have religiously put 2 per cent in cash.

"You cannot change this without informing myself and my clients.

"It is a hell of a lot of work for me to change all my client's portfolios but I will do it if they pay me."