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Nucleus powers our pack

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We started using platforms in 2001. We were convinced when we saw the convenience for our clients and the measure of control we gained over their portfolios.

The long awaited addition of investment bonds and Sipps in 2006 was disappointing, however, because the platforms allowed the life offices to use their own outmoded charging structures. Last year, I had the good fortune to meet Nucleus business development director Philip Martin and was immediately impressed by the true open architecture of the wrap, so that whether my client was investing in a unit trust, Isa, investment bond or Sipp the charges were identical.

You do not just decide to use Nucleus, there is a process by which they also decide if you are the right match for them. Arch Financial Planning was expected to invest in Nucleus shares and this gave us the opportunity to have a good look at this fledgling company.

The majority shareholding of Nucleus is in the hands of the participating IFA firms and so the development of the wrap can ignore the historical baggage that comes with life office control. One obvious example is the absence of any early termination penalties on its investment bond.

A wrap may simply be a mechanism for providing a service but Nucleus has brought to us a whole new community. Not only is the Nucleus wrap itself revolu-tionising the way we deal with our clients but equally it offers a point of interaction with so many enthusiastic top-end IFAs and financial planners.

In the past, we worked with one eye on what the future might hold for us and sometimes we strugg-led to maintain our enthusiasm but, with Nucleus, we feel we have plugged into a power pack that regularly renews our energy. The frequent management information and general communication at all levels in the company is excellent.

The extensive fund choice has seen us start to use groups such as Hasley and Frontier Capital whose multi-asset funds and investment processes are closely aligned with the needs of our clients.

Transferring existing pension funds into the Nucleus Sipp exposed early glitches but most of the problems were caused, not unexpectedly, by the ceding companies. We have been surprised at how powerful the words "we can help you tidy up your pensions/ investments" are to wealthier clients.

It is particularly useful to see, at a glance, the percentage change in value of each fund in the client's portfolio but it is the absence of paperwork for existing Nucleus clients who want to top up their investments that is so exciting; there just isn't any at all, apart from the client's cheque and even that can be avoided by an online bank transfer.

Our costs are now a two-way agreement between us and our clients so factory gate pricing is already a reality for us. All costs are crystal clear and highly competitive with annual management charge rebates going straight into the clients' accounts. We eagerly await the next development.

Arthur Childs is managing director of Arch Financial Planning

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