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Why can’t platforms make charges clear?


I love the concept of platforms and wraps. All investments in one place, a simple overview for both client and adviser, instant real-time valuations. What’s not to love – about the concept?

But on some wraps, the charges seem disproportionate to the client benefit.

Then we have the restriction that other platforms have on investment choice. A pathetically limited range of investment trusts and even less in the ETF market. What a shame we cannot have unlimited access and competitive charges?

Oh, wait a minute, yes, we can. As Steven Levitt observes in his book, Freakonomics, if you want to judge the merits of professional advice you should look not at what the advisers are advising but what they are doing themselves. I wonder where IFAs are platforming their own investments.

I have found an excellent portal that offers me individual shares, ETFs, investment trusts, Oeics, unit trusts – in fact, apart from one really obscure Canadian share listed on the TSX venture exchange, they have been able to meet every investment requirement I have ever had.

What is more, unlike the charging structures applied by the usual suspects that we see mentioned in any article about wraps/platforms, the charges could not be clearer and they represent exceptional value.

So then, why am I not deliriously happy and recommending this portal to all and sundry? Simple. It is not designed with IFA interfacing in mind. It has no dual-level access facility (adviser and investor) and no functionality for deduction of adviser fees and so I can only recommend it for those clients happy to pay their fees by way of a “personally written and signed cheque” – and keep paying those fees in future as and when required. Sadly, given the current culture, the number of clients falling into that group is still woefully small.

Still, it does beg the question. If this company can provide what they do at the cost they do, then why are the “IFA-friendly” wraps so much more expensive?

Can those additional charges all be down to having to provide a funding arrangement for advisers?

Even if that were so, (about which I am doubtful), what possible reason can there be for making the charging structures unnecessarily complex and shrouding them in what one client has described as “an impenetrable fog” – and I have to say I agree with him.

Sorry, Fidelity, Cofunds, Transact et al but you must be using a different dictionary to the rest of the world if the adjective you see fit to apply to your charging structures is “transparent”. Ivor Harper

Director, Park Financial


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  1. I totally agree Ivor. I also find it disturbing that certain platforms claim to be cheap (and the headline rates show they are) and then you find that the reason is negotiated AMC rebates go to them rather than clients thereby meaning that the actual returns are lower on the funds through their platform.

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