Foster Denovo looks to scrap platform costs

Foster Denovo looks to scrap platform costs

Foster Denovo plans to launch its own platform later in the year and is looking at absorbing the costs of the service for its clients.

It is the second firm to float the possibility of scrapping platform costs for its clients in the past few months, with AFH also discussing this prospect.

Roger Brosch, chief executive of Foster Denovo, said: "It is very hard to justify why a client should pay for a platform.

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"There are some clients who benefit from a platform, maybe because they use the capital gains tax calculator or they use the portal regularly and it is not unreasonable for them to pay a sensible price for it.

"But there will be a number of clients that we have where the platform is helping us more than them."

Foster Denovo currently uses around seven platforms and the new white labeled one it is building would sit alongside these when it is completed later this year.

Mr Brosch said a Foster Denovo platform would be better tailored to the type of clients the firm has.

He said: "We are looking to be quite market disturbing on price and we want it to have some flexibility on pricing. There are some clients we don't want to charge because we are using the platform for our own efficiency and if they don't benefit we don't want to charge."

Last year the Financial Conduct Authority launched a market study into investment platforms because of concerns about whether there was enough competitive pressure in the platform market to incentivise operators to put pressure on asset management fees.

It had already raised concerns in the current market study on whether platforms were restricting competition by hampering switching and if investors benefited from economies of scale, suggesting this warranted additional work.

Mr Brosch added that Foster Denovo is hoping to complete a number of acquisitions later in 2018 but he said the firm is being selective in its targets.

Richard Ross, a chartered financial planner with Norfolk-based Chadwicks, said: "We need to learn from other sectors that have been caught napping by the likes of Amazon, having remained complacent for too long about a lack of competition. Unless we improve competition in our market we will remain vulnerable to disruptive new entrants.

"Foster Denovo are right to draw attention to the need  to simplify the way the overall cost of investment is presented to clients.

"However, I feel it is a bit of a red herring to suggest shifting the notional charging point for the platform makes any real difference – one way or another the client will end up paying.

"In my view, if all advisers showed clearly the total cost of investing (fund charge, platform charge and adviser fee) as a single figure then we would start to get to a position where clients could more easily make an informed comparison, driving competition in the market. The better our market functions, the better we will be able to protect our position."