Insider - August 2019

Furgus Lyons

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With so much division in the country – and, indeed, the world – right now, I’m proud to see how much AJ Bell is doing to try and bring people together. A great example of this is our forthcoming Luminary seminar, which is a fantastic opportunity to hear from female financial services professionals in an industry where the speaker line-up of any seminar is so often dominated by men. And as a company that is headquartered in Manchester, we also threw our weight behind the city’s magnificent Pride event, as well as supporting local LGBTQ+ homeless charity AKT. If you want to support their amazing work too, you can do so here.

Good things come in threes

I am delighted to let you know that we recently had the privilege of picking up three awards at the annual Money Marketing awards. A successful trip south saw us take home the awards for Best SIPP Provider, Best Platform and the much coveted Company of the Year.

Part of the process that sits behind the awards involves votes from advisers. We never take any of these things for granted and your support is always greatly appreciated. I would like to thank any of you who took the time to register a vote in our favour.

AJ Bell Passive MPS turns ‘three’

Time waits for no one – it’s incredible to think that it is now three years since we launched our Managed Portfolio Service on 18 August 2016.

Our aim was to offer advisers a range of risk-targeted portfolios focused on low costs, simplicity and transparency. To mark this milestone, our Head of Passive Portfolios, Matt Brennan, has now reviewed their performance over what has been a very ‘interesting’ period for global markets. From a number of the conversations I have had, I know that many of you will have compliance processes that require you to consider three-year performance numbers. With this in mind I would encourage you to take a look – it makes for interesting reading.

New reports available in V2.0

As part of AJ Bell Investcentre V2.0, we have built new reports which, I’m pleased to say, now include an adviser charges report, portfolio X-ray report and pension income report, alongside the options for Capital Gains Tax and portfolio valuations.

  • The adviser charges reporting tool allows you to view charges for a particular date, or within a range of dates of your choosing.
  • The portfolio X-ray has been incorporated into the reporting tool so that you can continue to produce the existing detailed analysis of asset allocation, stock sectors and underlying holdings that make up a portfolio, but you can now produce it alongside the other available options with your firm’s brand also included.
  • The pension income report will assist you in viewing PCLS and income payment information for your client within a set date range.

I would encourage you to try out this new functionality for yourself when you get the chance. Over the coming months, we will continue to add other reporting options to the tool, covering areas such as cash flow and performance tracking – so keep an eye out for future updates.

ISA simplification

Our objective at AJ Bell is always to make investing easier, but it sometimes feels like we are swimming against the tide. The current ISA regime is a prime example of the needless complexity that investors can face, so we’re hoping that the new Chancellor of the Exchequer will heed our calls to do something about it.

Andy Bell wrote to both the Chancellor and the FCA recently, pointing out that what was originally introduced as a simple tax wrapper to encourage saving has now become a multi-headed monster, whose complexity actually puts people off opening an ISA.

Our view is that all the different ISAs currently on offer should be consolidated into a single product, thereby reducing the consumer’s options from a choice of six down to a simple, binary decision: “Do I want to invest via an ISA or not?

We have produced a policy paper on this issue, explaining how all of the existing ISA types could easily be merged into a single wrapper, in a way that is cost neutral to the Government. The paper, which Andy sent to the Chancellor and the FCA, is entitled ‘ISA Simplification – One ISA’. I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on it.

AJ Bell - On the Road

Numerous AJ Bell Investcentre ‘On the Road’ seminars have already taken place all over the UK this year, and we’ll be extending the tour to more locations over the coming weeks. Seats are filling up fast! You can come visit us and hear from some great speakers in the following locations:


Monday 9 September 2019


Register for Edinburgh



Monday 9 September 2019


Register for Glasgow



Tuesday 10 September 2019


Register for Manchester



Tuesday 10 September 2019


Register for Harrogate



Wednesday 11 September 2019


Register for Birmingham



Wednesday 11 September 2019


Register for Bristol



Thursday 12 September 2019


Register for London



Thursday 12 September 2019


Register for Gatwick



Our next Luminary event will take place on 2 October, providing another opportunity for us to promote greater diversity within the financial services industry, and for you to enjoy a mix of educational and motivational talks – with the added bonus of getting to network with your peers over a drink.

This year, we have partnered with Janus Henderson to deliver a fantastic line-up of speakers at a great venue - the Mere Hotel & Spa near Manchester. Our speakers include the remarkable Cor Hutton of the charity ‘Finding your Feet’, AJ Bell’s Personal Finance Analyst, Laura Suter, and Janus Henderson’s Head of UK Balanced Funds, Ainslie McLennan. Our Senior Technical Consultant, Lisa Webster, will also be there, as will Business Development Manager Andy Witter.

Spaces are limited, so please register below to secure your attendance.

The lang cat Adviser Sentiment Survey

The lang cat has recently launched its 2019 Adviser Sentiment Survey as a way to identify what it is that advisers value about the platforms that they use.

You can rate your platforms of choice in three areas: the support it offers, the platform itself, and your overall impression. It will only take a couple of minutes to complete – you can have your say here.

Breaking down barriers to transfers

The FCA’s Investment Platforms Market Study Final Report in March made it clear that the regulator wants to help drive greater competition and transferability between platforms when they said: ”Our remedies aim to ensure consumers and advisers can shop around and switch easily, at low cost, when another provider better meets their needs”.

If you have looked at the content on our Info hub, you will know that we have provided a raft of material, including a detailed piece by the lang cat, that looks at what the barriers to transfers are.  

To continue to build on this, we have been working with Rory Percival to produce a guide to platform switching that seeks to knock down the ‘wall of myths’ about what the regulator requires. Rory looks at the FCA rules and guidance in detail and provides many good-practice examples of how firms achieve bulk platform-switching in a reasonably efficient way from a regulatory perspective.

Work on the guide is almost complete, and copies will be made available to advisers who attend our ‘On the Road’ seminars (see above). If you can’t make the seminars and would like a copy, you can request one by emailing us at Copies will be available from around the second week in September.  

AJ Bell Funds & Investment Trust Awards

Our colleagues in AJ Bell Media run a range of Fund and Investment Trust Awards; voting for these awards is now open.

Our expert panel of investment professionals has already whittled down the many thousands of investment funds and trusts available, leaving their preferred nominations in each of the award categories.

If you are interested in having your say, please feel free to cast your votes.

As a ‘thank you’ for taking part, your name will be entered into a free prize draw to win a £250 gift voucher for Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge’s restaurant Kerridge’s Bar and Grill. 

The closing date for voting is 30 August 2019. T&Cs apply.

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.

The information below is not provided as a formal measure of our service levels, but rather to give you a general idea of how our Customer Services Team is currently performing.

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.