Addressing adviser gripes about its pricing structure has been key in pitting Ascentric above its rivals to win the award for most improved investment firm.
Ascentric head of marketing Sarah Lyons said: “Advisers were saying, ‘your pricing structure is complicated and difficult to explain to customers’, so we went for a really simple pricing structure.
“This is quite important. Advisers can access whatever investment they want – be it a stock, share, ETF [exchange-traded fund] – and they can do that without any extra cost to the client.
“They can genuinely give the best advice to that client without any fear of additional charges or costs.”
The complexity of charges Ms Lyons talks about is not unique to Ascentric and is one the Financial Conduct Authority has in its scope to change.
She added: “It needs to be easier for advisers to move between platforms. I don’t think the market makes it very straightforward.
“Different platforms put unintentional barriers. I am not saying this is deliberate. There is an unintended consequence that it has become quite difficult for advisers to justify moving between platforms. We have to fix that and the propositions have to stand up on their own merit.”
Across the business, Ascentric has also re-engineered its service model to make itself more adviser-centric, so that an adviser typically deals with one person instead of several.
Other changes include reducing the length of time it takes for a customer to be able to withdraw money.
All these changes have come as the company is replatforming, about which it is in constant communication with advisers, according to Ms Lyons.
Looking ahead, Ascentric will continue to help advisers with client reporting and how to manage the income of their clients as it continues its service-improvement programme.
Ways to success:
- Re-engineering service model.
- Simplified pricing structure.
- Simplifying the way and reducing the turnaround time for customers to withdraw money.
- Replatforming and keeping advisers abreast of what is happening.
- Helping advisers manage their clients.