Personal Pension  

Curtis Banks launches property companies

Curtis Banks launches property companies

Self-invested personal pension (Sipp) provider Curtis Banks has established two new companies to meet the growing demands of commercial property customers.

This move, plans for which were reported by FTAdviser last year, will allow the provider to increase the customer experience by bringing these services in-house, and also increase profits.

Curtis Banks has established Rivergate Legal, which is led by solicitor Gemma Millard and has received approval from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

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The company is already moving forward with client instructions, and offers a wide range of legal services to Sipp, small self-administered schemes (Ssas) and open market clients relating to their commercial properties.

Ms Millard said: "For some time there has been strong demand for professional legal services combined with practical experience of pension regulation.

"My team at Rivergate are beginning to meet this demand. With the experience of the firm's management team we can provide a high quality and effective streamlined legal service to our clients."

Rivergate will join the Curtis Banks panel of solicitors, so clients can still choose any solicitor they wish to use with their property transactions.

The provider has also set up Templemead Property Services, which has received Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) accreditation, and is currently in the process of recruiting a network of valuers.

The company will provide valuation services as well as negotiating other professional services on behalf of Curtis Banks.

A number of agreements, that are benefiting Curtis Banks clients, have already been agreed, the provider said.

According to Rupert Curtis, chief executive of Curtis Banks Group, it makes sense to offer an in-house solution to a number of related services, given the provider has a portfolio of more than 7,000 commercial properties.

Martin Bamford, chartered financial planner at Informed Choice, argued that "anything that can reduce the cost and improve the service for Sipp customers is good news".

He said: "Bringing services like these in house should improve the flow of communication between the Sipp administration team and property services team, resulting in faster turnaround at a lower cost.

"The legal aspects of Sipps require specialist knowledge and experience, so it makes sense to manage this in-house, rather than outsource to specialist legal advisers."

Curtis Banks currently administers more than 76,000 Sipps, and saw its operating profits increase 51 per cent in the first year following its acquisition of rival Suffolk Life.