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Platforms in clarity clash on rebate ban

There is friction within the platform industry over whether the FSA should back down on its proposals to unbundle charges and ban rebates in an effort to make charging structures more transparent.

The FSA has delayed publication of its platform paper until later this year following frantic lobbying from all sides over its proposed ban on payments from providers to platforms.

Novia chief executive Bill Vasilieff says he believes the FSA intends to go ahead with the ban on rebates.

He says: “The FSA has probably worked out that there is no customer benefit from having such payments. Although the FSA has not ruled yet, to continue with the ban on rebates would be in the spirit of transparency.”

Nucleus chief executive David Ferguson says: “I think if the rebate ban does not go ahead and the FSA does not stick to its guns it would be a tragedy for transparency. I would be surprised if the FSA were to listen solely to the UK Platform Group.”

The UK Platform Group includes Skandia, Cofunds, Standard Life and Fidelity FundsNetwork.

Ascentric managing director Hugo Thorman says: “I hope the FSA is not considering backing down over rebates. At the moment, the likes of Fidelity, Skandia and Cofunds control the vast majority of the assets held on platforms.

“They are the ones that will be most affected and they are going to be a very powerful voice in telling the FSA that the benefit does not match the risk and the cost to them and their model. I believe that is not the case. The benefits for the industry and UK plc are far greater than the costs they are going to incur.”

If ban does not go ahead it would be a tragedy for transparency

David Ferguson

Some sources suggest the FSA appears to be moving towards a requirement for platforms to disclose rebates rather than an all-out ban.
Thorman says full disclosure of all rebates should be the “absolute minimum requirement” imposed.

Skandia platform marketing manager Jeremy Mugridge says banning reb-ates altogether would result in poorer outcomes for consumers.

He says: “The current rebate mechanism enables platforms to negotiate competitive fund management prices with fund groups on behalf of consumers, which enables investors to benefit from platform services and financial

advice for the same price as purchasing the funds directly from the fund manager.

Benefits are far greater than the costs

Hugo Thorman

“Removal of this mechanism is likely to drive up costs for consumers using platforms, regardless of the platform’s current charging structure.

Properly disclosing rebates to consumers should be a simple way of avoiding any confusion and creating the clarity needed over charges.”

Threesixty partner Phil Young says he views unbundled charging as “a nice thing to have” rather than essential. He says: “There are a lot of other ways to create transparency on a platform and with platform charges rather than just unbundling.

“Our biggest concern is that most platforms produce illustrations and calculate a reduction in yield in completely different ways. We find that is the biggest problem as far as transparency is concerned. The fact that you cannot compare one platform’s charges with another is more of an issue than whether a platform is bundled or unbundled.

Properly disclosing rebates should be a simple way of creating clarity over charges

Jeremy Mugridge

Fidelity International head of platform sales Julian Webb believes that the best way for the FSA to achieve transparency in the platform market is to require platforms to produce a key information document.

He says: “This would force platforms to disclose rebates whether to advisers, fund partners and customers and so ensure a level playing field for all and avoid any conflicts of interest.”

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Comments

There are 7 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Ha Ha! the UK Platform group – four of the most expensive platforms out there throwing up a smoke screen to disguise chatges.

    This is supposed the be best advice – not who is bunging you wedge to be considered over others!.

    Lets unbundle now – FSA show your teeth while you still exist!.

  2. As an investor my only concern when comparing bundled and unbundled offerings is to know the Total Cost.

    Although some in the unbundled camp probably believe that their way is best I am sure that there are some who see the unbundled approach as a way of misleading the investor. Focus on the low fund cost, break charges down into small sub charges and hopefully the client will not notice the large final cost.

    So long as each component cost is quoted separately and not totaled there is a danger that a client might not appreciate the total cost.

    I can see no reason for the FSA to ban fund rebates. All that should be required is that ALL cost be stated and that a Final cost be given including, fund cost, platform cost and Adviser cost.

  3. Unfortunately this is yet another piece of muddled journalism which adds no clarity to the situation. Please realise that there are 2 completely different fund rebate issues. The first is rebate to platform operators which is the whole issue about bundled or unbundled pricing and which polarises between fund supermarkets and wraps as only fund supermarkets receive such rebates. The totally different second issue is rebate to clients which affects unbundled wrap propositions and which would be a severe retrograde step. The FSA has made no such distinction and has proposed banning both. So everybody is hoping for at least one of these ban situations to be reversed.

  4. Produce a key information document?? More documentation that will be subject to the marketing department wand? These documents have worked in the past?

    Also, will the fund management house disclose the full AMC that it gets paid or the “net of rebate” amount that it actually gets paid for the work of managing the clients money?

    Finally, will one the of the UK Platform Group please publicise their work to support the conclusion that this will all increase the cost to the end user. This should be market-wide and not just based on their out-dated business models.

  5. This is the client’s money. How these firms can genuinely stand there and believe that bundled charges with transparency is ok is beyond me. And yes there will be significant transition costs. Join the party with everyone else and stop whinging

  6. @ Anonymous 11:56 “four of the most expensive platforms” ?

    Could you elaborate ? As far as I am aware Cofunds Or FundsNetwork never cost the investor more than going direct ? Also all of the “unbundled” offerings would cost more – assuming the client buys active funds and adviser charge is factored in.

  7. buen articulo

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