Insider - April 2018

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The tax year end rush is out of the way for another 12 months, and once again I have to doff my cap to our fantastic Customer Services Team. The amount of work they get through increases every year, but standards never seem to slip. Next month I’ll publish full details of the figures we handled this tax-year end, but for the time being I think the following will give you a flavour of what the team achieved.

New business applications were up 40% on last year with 96% processed within two days.

The Customer Services team received around 10,000 emails during the tax-year end run-in, with 90% of them responded to within 24 hours.

Our Adviser Support Team received 17,800 phone calls and 92% were answered within six rings.

The new AJ Bell Active MPS range

You may remember last month I mentioned that we have extended our MPS range to include a selection of active investment options. These can offer you a very efficient way to help many of your clients, so I thought I’d share more details now.

Management of the six new risk-profiled portfolios has been placed in the capable hands of Ryan Hughes – our Head of Active Portfolios. This is very familiar territory for Ryan, as he used to run active multi-asset funds at Apollo Multi-Asset and Old Mutual before joining us in 2016.

The portfolios are benchmarked against risk portfolios three to eight in Distribution Technology’s Dynamic Risk Planner ratings. Whilst the portfolios are predominately made up of a range of active funds, passive funds may also be included where appropriate. As Ryan recently put it: “We will only use those active managers we believe are able to outperform after fees. We will not just use active funds for the sake of it!”

Just like the passive portfolios that came before them, the active range is long-term in nature, but Ryan’s team is always sensitive to the current market environment and so will look for opportunities to add value or protect capital on a one to three-year basis.

Ryan recently outlined the approach he adopts in an article for Portfolio Adviser. You can read a copy of the article at the following link.

If you would like to know more about AJ Bell Active MPS, visit our MPS page.

AJ Bell Passive funds and MPS quarterly reports

The latest quarterly reports for our MPS and Passive funds range are now available to download. They should make interesting reading because volatility returned with a vengeance in the first quarter of 2018, as evidenced by the fact that the FTSE 100 experienced ten single day falls of more than 1% – i.e. more times than in the whole of last year!

Multi-Asset Summit

There are still places available at our Multi-Asset Summit in London on 3 May.

If you can join us you’ll get to hear Mark ‘lang cat’ Polson sharing the results from his latest vertical integration research, and discussing some of the pricing strategies adopted by multi-asset investment providers.

Our Chief Investment Officer, Kevin Doran, will be there too, looking at the effect that Big Data and Artificial Intelligence have had on the fund management industry, and asking whether it’s time for some asset management industry conventions to be updated. You can also expect a visit from our Investment Director, Russ Mould, who will provide a market update and a look at the outlook for 2018 and beyond.

There are still places available at our Multi-Asset Summit in London on 3 May.

Later in the day Dr Richard Whittle, Senior Research Fellow in Political Economy/Behavioural Economics at Manchester Metropolitan University, will investigate whether the current point of sale disclosure regime is fit for purpose.

We will end the morning with a debate between AJ Bell Investments’ Heads of Active and Passive portfolios - Ryan Hughes and Matt Brennan respectively - as they look to defend their jobs!

The event counts as 2.5 hours of CPD time and lunch will be laid on for all attendees. You can find full details at the event page.

Funds & Shares Service XO

I thought I’d take this opportunity to remind you that our Funds & Shares Service now offers an execution-only option called the F&SS XO account.

This option basically gives your client full flexibility and control over the funds held in the F&SS XO account, and allows them to place deals on all or part of their SIPP accounts. Instead of going through you, AJ Bell Investcentre would contact the client directly regarding any actions they need to take. You can learn more about the F&SS XO here.

If you would like to set up an F&SS XO account for a new or existing client, just complete the additional/change investment partner form. We will soon be adding the Funds & Shares Service XO as part of the application process for new customers.

Utmost Limited offshore bonds

I am pleased to announce that we are now working with Utmost Limited to increase our range of offshore bond options.

As a result, you can now access our General Investment Account via Utmost Limited’s Evolution and Estate Planning offshore bonds. This is in addition to our existing links with Canada Life International.

I am pleased to announce that we are now working with Utmost Limited to increase our range of offshore bond options.

Our link with Utmost Limited allows you to access the wide range of investments available via our investment universe, and to make full use of our platform functionality and competitive charging structure, whilst also enjoying all the benefits of their offshore bond.

If you would like to find out more, please contact your Business Development Manager.

Platforum UK Adviser Platform Guide ratings

Platforum are now accepting votes for their UK Adviser Platform Guide ratings, so if you want to have your say and know any adviser-focused UK platforms that deserve recognition then now’s the time to vote.

Monthly service performance

To give you a flavour of our service delivery and how we are performing, our typical turnaround times for a number of key service areas are outlined below. This is not provided as a formal measure of our service levels, but rather to give you an idea of how our Customer Services Team is currently performing.

We will update this in each issue and flag any hotspots which may occur, particularly in the lead-up to peak periods. Looking across all of the areas listed below, we are currently hitting the indicative timescales provided in 92% of cases.

Managing Director

Fergus worked at a major bank for over 20 years before joining AJ Bell in August 2000. Since then he has worked in many areas of the business, and is currently Managing Director of AJ Bell Investcentre. Fergus is also responsible for AJ Bell Investments and our Platinum SSAS/SIPP products.