Advisers bolster due diligence on Ssas providers

Search sponsored by
Advisers bolster due diligence on Ssas providers
Nathan Bridgeman, director at provider Seabridge Ssas

The number of companies leaving the small self administered scheme sector has called into question advisers’ due diligence processes.

Nathan Bridgeman, director at provider Seabridge Ssas, said he expected advisers would do a “much deeper dive” when it comes to Ssas administrator due diligence in future, after some have been “burnt by the consolidators and those not committed to the market”.

Due to this, Bridgeman expected further consolidation in the Ssas provider space with advisers and clients more likely to choose small specialists that add value with personalised service and technology rather than large consolidators.

This year both Hartley Pensions and Rowanmoor have gone into administration. Rowanmoor has since sold its Ssas book to Westbridge but Hartley's administrators have yet to finalise a deal.

Last year James Hay quit the Ssas sector, selling its book to Westbridge.

Bridgeman said: "We are seeing lots of advisers take up our free Ssas review which involves a full analysis of their clients existing Ssas. 

“We provide a detailed report and guidance adding value through our highly personalised service (dedicated administrator and director allocated to every scheme).”

According to Bridgeman there are five things advisers need to ask when considering a Ssas administrator for their clients.

1. Ownership structure and commitment to market

Bridgeman said advisers should look at the background, qualifications and experience of the providers’ senior management team.

He said: “Are the owners and their team likely to be committed to the Ssas profession for the long term? Are they a consolidator in for the short term and a quick profit at the expense of client service and ongoing investment in the proposition? What’s the exit strategy of the ownership and succession strategy?”

2. Financial strength  

Another thing to look out for is whether the administrator is profitable in its own right.

“Making a profit is essential and alarm bells should be ringing if the company has a high level of debt,” Bridgeman said.

“What exposure to toxic failed investments and unauthorised payments do they have as not only does this threaten their sustainability but will impact service requiring huge investment in reconciliation and backfill.”

3. Service 

The focus should not be on fees but rather if the administrator offers value in the service it provides.

Bridgeman said that advisers do not want to be dealing with a call centre and lengthy service delays but should instead have a direct dial and email with someone who can respond the same day.

“At SeaBridge every Ssas has a dedicated administrator and director looking after the scheme with accountability, efficiency and accuracy the foundation of our business,” he said.

4. Proposition