Curtis Banks aims for new business recovery

Curtis Banks aims for new business recovery

The new chief executive of Curtis Banks has said there was a huge opportunity for genuine organic growth, despite the company registering almost a third less in new business during 2018.

According to the self-invested personal pension provider's annual results, announced today (March 20), the firm saw the number of new Sipps administered increased to 77,739 from 76,474.

These 1,265 new Sipps compared to 3,491 new ones administered in 2017.

Will Self (pictured), who took the reigns of the Sipp provider in January, told FTAdviser there were several reasons for this slowdown, which he didn't expect to be a long-term trend.

He said: "The industry is still very healthy, the demographics around Sipp customers and ageing population [are positive].

"There is an increased demand for drawdown, an increased focus on defined contribution as the defined benefit schemes wind up and that market matures in totality. We still see there's a huge opportunity for Sipps."

However, the pensions market has been the target of added regulatory scrutiny, especially regarding transfers and advice, Mr Self explained.

He added: "Those financial advisers who historically have been doing pension transfers have found it slightly more tricky [to continue this activity] over the last 18 months.

"We believe that we are probably through the worst of it [in this area], and those concerns were mainly around DB, and this was never an area that we got into in a large scale anyway."

Another reason for the slowdown was the announced launch of Curtis Banks's new product, Your Future Sipp, which combines elements of products previously offered by Curtis Banks and Suffolk Life.

Mr Self said: "There is always a hiatus from when you say that you'll have a new product, until you actually launch it and the new business starts to come through again. We formally launched that in January this year."

FTAdviser reported last year that the new product would allow automated adviser charging and offer an overhauled charging structure.

Mr Self revealed that the first results of the Sipp were "really positive".

He said: "It has been very well received, all early indications are good.

"Our new sales team - which is something we invested heavily last year - are now fully up to speed, and by having a much wider reaching sales force we've also seen new relationships come to us in the first two months of the year."

Mr Self explained Curtis Banks's investment in distribution was twofold - one to achieve greater penetration and a greater share of the market of the IFAs – which was progressing - and to work with national firms and networks.

The provider has seen results in this area as well, with "a couple of new relationships", he noted. Mr Self declined to reveal the name of the firms, however.

He concluded: "These things take time, and we are under no illusion that there is a tap that suddenly gets turned on tomorrow, but early indications are very encouraging."