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Curtis Banks makes Sipp debut

New self-invested pension specialist Curtis Banks is targeting the middle market and high-net-worth investors with a self-invested personal pension that allows investors to pay only for the features they need.

The company was founded last month by actuary Rupert Curtis and pension specialist Chris Banks. It aims to simplify Sipps and small self-administered schemes and the Sipp has already received a five-star rating from Defaqto.

The team is experienced in the Sipp market, having set up their first Sipp in 1995. Curtis has individually approved status with HMRC as a pensioneer trustee and his previous roles include managing director of IPS Pensions and a director at James Hay. Banks has over 30 years experience in the pensions industry. He has owned and managed companies such as Palmer Banks, Investment Portfolio Services, CMM and Cobalt Capital.

Curtis Banks recognises that costs, service and investment flexibility are important to clients and advisers. All charges are clearly outlined as the firm has taken on board FSA concerns about the complexity of Sipp charges and the need for transparency. The Sipp has a basic annual fee of £245 and strives to be competitive in its charges for other work and one-off transactions.

Unlike some Sipps, there are no charges for receiving standard transfer payments or contributions. There are no transaction charges, which can increase costs for Sipps that initially seem inexpensive. Clients will be trustees and this ensures decisions are made in the client’s interest.

The administration and back office systems for the Sipp will rely on the latest technology. Clients can view the value of their assets and gain access to other information through the company’s website. There will be immediate access to an account manager as Curtis Banks realises that advisers and clients do not like their calls being held in a queue or put through to helpdesks.

On the investment side, the Sipp will offer full flexibility. Investors can choose their own investments, including more unusual assets such as unquoted equities, gold bullion, derivatives known as contracts for difference and hedge funds. The company’s in-house lawyer can be used for property transactions, but investors may also use their own.

This Sipp should tick all the right boxes for advisers and their clients, but its success may depend on the level of service it provides to advisers.

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