You can have a platform with rather more “bells and whistles” but invariably, this comes with additional costs. The ability to hold investment property within a pension, shares and so on, all have various additional costs. Some also charge for each type of “wrapper” which is really a charge for a product – a SIPP, Flexible Drawdown Pension, ISA etc.
Naturally these costs all begin to add up and a valid question is really whether you would make use of all the “bells and whistles”. Many will not, but some certainly will. So, selection of a platform ought to suit you more than your adviser. One of the main advantages of any platform is the saved aggravation in attempting to deal with different companies or constructing a portfolio of funds from very different investment groups. I cannot repeat what I think of some providers but let’s just say that they give the impression that they have only just come across a fax machine.
Move On 
One of the age-old problems of financial services is inertia. Many will stick with what they know, despite the reality that there are better alternatives. The hassle with all those forms can seem overwhelming. In addition, any adviser that guarantees that moving from A to B will be better, is delusional, the new arrangement may be considerably, better, cheaper, faster etc, but it is not possible to guarantee a better outcome. In the same way that I cannot guarantee that I will rise from my bed tomorrow, I should, but I may not.
The temptation for clients and advisers is to believe the marketing. In addition, advisers may receive helpful bits of kit to enable them to do a better job. This then begins to blindside and erode impartiality.
Knowing Me, Knowing You..
So, what do we do at Solomons? Well we pay for all the tools we use so that we can deliver the service we want. These evolve. This year I have started to use at least 3 new different tools. I’m aware of bias and so we get an independent company to research and assess platforms for us. We do not influence the research or results. We provide details about who we currently use and an overview of the sort of clients and their holdings that we have. We do this once a year.
Most of our clients do not need all the bells and whistles, so we use platforms that suit their requirements. There are lots of unused funds, but that’s not the same thing. If I want to buy a suit I go to a shop that sells suits, I don’t by them all, some would be too small (most) and some too large, wrong style, colour and so on. That does not mean I am paying for the other suits, merely going to somewhere to obtain what I want.
Another Town, Another Train 
If there are good reasons to change your platform, we will advise you to do so. There will not be any new costs because we treat this as a part of the annual fees that we charge for your investments on a platform. All the platforms we have selected to date do not apply exit charges, unlike Waterloo . This was done deliberately.
Cheapest is not best. Back to the suit buying… (surely you bright folk get it) price is one element of the purchase. Does it do the job? Well, when it comes to technology, sadly, all too often platforms break, which is more than a minor irritant when attempting to comply with regulations, designed to protect investors, albeit often with utterly daft realities.
The Winner Takes It All 
Good platforms are about two things – sustainability and innovation. The price differential between good platforms is nothing like as significant as these two. Is their business model sustainable? Most platforms do not make a profit, which to put it bluntly means that something must change. That’s just The Name of The Game . Those that do not innovate will eventually be left behind, and when your business is essentially a technology solution, that is a bad business plan.
In summary, we do not use platforms because of the tools they provide, or any other incentives. We will move you from one platform to another if there is good reason to do so. All platforms that we have advised, do not apply exit charges. We tend to only use platforms where the bells and whistles come at no extra cost or are not charged if not used. We like innovation but above all, the business model of the platform needs to be robust.
When All is Said and Done , we look after our clients for decades, not months or a couple of years, but On and On and On . Decades. So there seems to me to be no point in ripping anyone off. What goes around comes around and all that…. and with the idea of A to B, platforms and things coming around again, its all about money, money, money… so here’s the trailer for Mamma Mia 2.
You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email firstname.lastname@example.org