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ATS platform charges to rise by up to 87% from February

Alliance Trust Savings has revealed price rises on its advised platform for 2014 with fees increasing by up to 87 per cent.

The platform will retain its flat-fee charging structure, but will increase its standard annual fees by 87.5 per cent from £48 to £90 for Isas and by 14.81 per cent per cent from £162.00 to £186.00 for Sipps.

Standard pricing does not cover dealing costs, which will be £12.50 per trade.

An alternative inclusive pricing option is available with no dealing charges. The inclusive fee option is £330 for Sipps and for Isas is £180. However, ATS says it may apply dealing charges on inclusive fee accounts after 25 online trades have been completed in a year.

Some event-driven charges have been removed. These include corporate actions and cash withdrawals. 

There is no charge to re-register assets away from the ATS platform until March 2014, after which a £100 fee applies. 

Money Marketing reported in November that ATS was planning an increase to its pricing.

The new prices are effective from February 2014 and fixed until 2016.

ATS managing director Patrick Mill says: ““We remain fundamentally committed to a transparent flat fee model as the value of an individual account does not change the cost of administering it. We believe percentage charging structures are simply a tax on wealth. However, we have listened to feedback from our customers about the service we provide, our online service and the ad hoc charges that we apply to their accounts.  Based on this feedback and the increased demand on our business, we have decided to move to a single, all-in-one administration fee which covers all regular activities customers carry out on their accounts.       

“We  believe that customers will understand that these price increases are necessary in order to ensure we maintain consistently high standards and quality of service.”

Langcat Principal Mark Polson says: ”Any price increase is unwelcome, but ATS has played this with a straight bat. For a typical affluent advised client the increase is unlikely to be material in percentage terms and ATS’ flat fee structure remains comfortably ahead of the pack for larger portfolios.”

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Comments

There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Having self-righteously pushed so-called clean pricing, Alliance Trust Savings are now pushing up the price of its non-transparent annual administration charges/

  2. I was an ATS customer – I am moving everything off their platform. My IFA received assurances that the charges would not be increased in the foreseeable futue (this was October 2013) and lo and behold 87% hike. Given that I understand they oiginally wanted to increase fees by substantially more than 87% one has to wonder what the rise will be in 2016!

    Straight bat Mark???

  3. Sorry – I don’t accept the “straight bat” argument – quite the reverse in fact. For many ATS are still the obvious choice. Even now costs can be several thousand a year higher with some of the major players.

    So why didn’t ATS just say – we are increasing because we know we are much cheaper than the competition – we know that we can get away with it. why didn’t they admit that they want more IFA business and this means having more so called “added value” options. The direct client ( like myself) is effectively subsidizing the ATS attempt to attract more adviser business. Unless I can find a more cost effective solution ( which I can’t) I will stay but I would have preferred a more honest explanation.

  4. Along with other platforms constantly reviewing their pricing structures, this makes something of a mockery of the regulatory requirement for WoM IFA’s to compare every platform on the market (19 or 20 of them at the last count) to justify their selection process for each and every new investment. It isn’t compulsory for the cheapest platform to be selected but, if another is to be recommended instead, the adviser then has to justify that recommendation. How can any intermediary possibly be intimately acquainted with all the features and foibles of 19 or 20 different platforms? Unless backed up by a team researching them all day in, day out, I just don’t see how it can be done. How well each and every platform functions (or malfunctions) in practice is another impossible-to-know factor, not to mention the challenges of getting cock-ups sorted out.

    Members of many of the networks are instructed that they must undertake a fresh comparison even for top-ups, however small, to justify the continued use of the same platform. Such comparisons even have to be fund-specific, thus making them even more tiresomely time-consuming. You could go all through the process one week and the result could be out of date the next. And all this in addition to the rest of the advisory obstacle course ~ it’s crazy. Set against all the additional work and costs involved, do such processes really lead to the regulator’s Utopian dream of the best possible consumer outcomes? I suggest not.

    Aviva’s initial launch of its platform a few years back was a mess. I attended one of their road shows and left halfway through because the presenters seemed to be so totally ill-prepared for most of the questions put to them, not least on the issue of its charging structure. Now, Aviva’s extremely low (current) charging structure is obviously a cross-subsidised loss leader in an attempt to make up lost ground and build critical mass in as short a time frame as possible. It just has to be costing them money, maybe lots of it, and therefore can’t possibly last. Sooner or later, Aviva will have to raise its charges to commercially viable levels, in line with those of its competitors, thereby quite possibly invalidating all past comparisons. What then?

    Plus, of course, there’s a number of smaller platforms that many people are predicting just won’t survive. Rumour has it that at least one of the big life companies, when the time is right, intends to snap up one of these smaller players in the platform market and beef it up to its own specifications in preference to spending shedloads of money trying to launch its own from scratch. Probably not a bad idea.

    Is it any wonder that, to avoid all this largely unnecessary comparison work and expense, more and more IFA’s are going restricted to just one or two platforms? Or becoming SJP partners? This is our platform of choice, these are the reasons why, this is its charging structure and that’s it. How many potential investors are likely to reject that, seek out another intermediary still clinging valiantly to WoM IFA status and be willing to pay (possibly quite a lot) for the compilation of a new FactFind, ATR and CFL analysis and a fund-specific comparison of every single platform available? It’s just not going to happen, is it? A few switches down the line and, even if nothing else has changed, last year’s fund-specific comparison will be out of date. Consumers have neither the time or the interest.

    The vast majority, with whose actual needs, wishes and time constraints the regulator appears to be worryingly out of touch, are interested primarily in the shortest and most straightforward route to what they want to achieve. So what if Platform B is 0.15% p.a. more expensive than Platform A? Next year, the situation could well be reversed. What does the regulator expect the intermediary to do then? Write a time consuming report to the client recommending re-registration of all holdings from one platform to the other (which can’t be done free of charge) or setting out in wearisome detail all the reasons to stay put rather than move? And the same again next year? Additionally, Platform A may not offer access to some of the funds in which the client already has holdings on Platform B, thus invoking yet more work and costs identifying, researching and justifying the nearest possible available alternatives. It’s crazy and constitutes yet more evidence of why we have an advice gap and why the regulator needs to facilitate a streamlined advice process based on just Proposition, Costs, Risks & Tax, perhaps with a brief summary of Suitability.

    P.S. Referring to ATS’ dealing charge of £12.50 per trade (+ VAT?), does that mean that just a couple of fund switches each year will cost the client 4 x £12.50.

  5. @ Julian Stevens – Yes 2 switches would cost 4 x £12.50. If switching is important then another platform “might” be less expensive but with 0.25% pa charge being a reasonable assumption for many platforms it would cost £1250 pa for a £500,000 portfolio with some of the others. could do quite a few switches for the difference between £90 pa and £1250 or could buy self balancing funds, or could buy ETF or tracker and switch only when really required ( not just to show the client that the adviser is doing something)

  6. As an ATS customer (soon to be Ex) – you might just want to look at the client facing interface – it misses out some useful info like the date of the valuation, gain or loss etc.

  7. @ Richard Leeson ( soon to be ex) – with £600,000 ISA only, UT, OEIC, IT and no interest in anything fancy where would you go ? I can find a lot more expensive but none cheaper.

  8. Interactive Investor, Fidelity Funds Network? I don’t have £600K in my ISA but I am working on it! Both provide better client interface than ATS – including date of valuation and ability to identify gains/losses.

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