Skipton Building Society has updated its advice service by tightening its partnership with Aberdeen Standard Investments and launching an online portal for investors.
Skipton is a lender as well as a financial adviser with permission to advise on pensions and investments.
This week the firm changed its investment offering to include a core of risk rated multi-asset funds from Aberdeen, as well as a wider range of funds from different providers.
Investors can now also use Skipton’s new ‘portal’ — a customer facing online service which allows the customer to view the valuation of their existing investments held with the society.
Skipton stated it hopes to make financial advice and planning more accessible to people by reducing its charges and developing its in house advice service.
The charges have been cut from 4.5 per cent maximum, which was tiered downwards depending on the level of advice, to between 2 and 3 per cent depending on the complexity of the advice needed.
Skipton stated: “Our new approach means people can choose the best option that suits their investment needs, rather than having a one-size fits all approach.”
Although the society had always offered some advice in-house, Skipton said it has developed this further in the latest shake-up.
Consumers can now access advice through home-based or video link appointments.
The firm added: “We see this customer demand growing and becoming an increasingly important part of our Skipton offering.
“Again, it means people can not only select the different type of advice they want, but also how they get it – be it in branch or via video link.
"We’re making sure we’re accessible for all of our customers and the busy lives they lead.”
The society stated it continued to make investments in its customer service despite narrowing profit margins, and that the new financial advice proposition which went live this week was part of that.
In its half yearly results, posted on the London stock exchange yesterday (July 31), the lender reported underlying profits before tax of £84.2m — nearly £10m less than the £94.9m recorded for the same period last year.
The society’s total profit before tax also suffered in the first six months of this year, as it reported total profits of £72.3m, down from £104.7m last year.
It stated the decrease was predominantly down to its mortgages and savings arm, recognising it lost £12.5m due to the closure of its equity release portfolio.
Despite this, the group’s gross mortgage lending grew by 5.9 per cent since the end of 2018 to stand at £2.5bn.
Skipton also reported a growth in membership of 20,100 to 1,030,526.
The group’s net interest margin narrowed by 12 percentage points in the first half of 2019 to 1.02 per cent, compared with the end of 2018.
Skipton’s chief executive David Cutter said he predicted overall lower profits than in 2018 due to the pressures on mortgages and savings margins as well as the continuation of a subdued housing market.