Insider - Jan 2017
Welcome to the first issue of Insider – our regular update on all the developments happening within AJ Bell Investcentre. In each issue you can expect a snapshot of the world inside our platform – from updates on the latest business improvements to changes to our functionality. I hope you find it useful.
Beware of fraudsters!
Back in December we sent out an email warning that pensions are becoming an increasingly attractive target for fraudsters, who are now using a variety of different scams to misappropriate savers’ hard-earned funds.
The email we sent prompted one adviser to get in touch and share his own experience, in the hope it might help other advisers avoid a similar scam. It seems one of his clients had their router hacked, and later received an email which at first glance appeared to be from AJ Bell. The email requested the client to start making regular payments into a new account, but thankfully the client saw through the scam and didn’t divert their payments.
This story raises a couple of valuable points that are worth bearing in mind. Firstly, AJ Bell Investcentre will only ever email clients using the email domain @ajbell.co.uk. and @investcentre.co.uk. If your clients receive emails from an address that differs at all from this (e.g. ajjbell.co.uk), please ask them to get in touch with us so we can investigate further. Secondly, clients will never be asked to alter payment instructions due to a change of account details at our end.
We would urge you once again to look through our fraud awareness guide, and be mindful of the tips provided as you go about your normal working practice.
Our fraud awareness guide is available to view here.
Digital Strategy developments
Unlike many of the platforms in our peer group we have already completed a huge back-office re-platforming exercise – the project commenced in early 2010 and was delivered in January 2014. It was far from easy; some of you will remember the challenges we faced in the immediate aftermath! This was always intended to be the rock on which we would build. Having done this, we are now free to focus on enhancing the platform by delivering a slicker and better ‘front end’ – i.e. our website, tools and online presence via other digital media (phones, tablets etc). You will find details of what we have delivered in recent times, and a flavour of what is to come here.
Our ultimate aim is to make your job easier, and to provide a better online experience for both you and your clients. The next step on our journey is to introduce an entirely new and fully integrated post login secure area of the website. Rather than taking a ‘big bang’ approach, we will instead introduce the new website alongside the existing one, allowing you to gradually get acquainted with what will be a very different look, feel and user experience. In the fullness of time, once you are comfortable with our new approach, we will phase out and retire the old version of the website.
So, expect to see more information on this in the coming weeks. The first release will include our new Capital Gains Tax tool, which will allow you to view any GIA transactions that are subject to CGT, and to do calculations based on ‘actual’ and ‘what if’ scenarios. It will also allow you to execute trades based on those ‘what if’ scenarios.
Other enhancements will follow soon after, and throughout the summer. We will keep you up-to-date with all of our planned changes in future editions of Insider.
On the road again
Our AJ Bell On the Road seminar format returns for another tour in 2017, with dates in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, London and Bristol.
This time around we have invited AJ Bell Investments’ Head of Fund Selection, Ryan Hughes, and Head of Investments, Leon Diamond, to come and look under the bonnet of fund pricing and explain how it works across active and passive investment solutions. They will also look at some of the key discussion points that you must consider in the active v passive debate.
FinalytiQ’s founder, Abraham Okusanya, will also be there, looking back on a turbulent year in which his controversial prophecies regarding the platform industry largely came true. We look forward to hearing his predictions for 2017 and beyond!
Last on the bill are two of our technical experts, Mike Morrison and Lisa Webster, with information on some of the key retirement and pension planning areas that you should bear in mind as the tax year end approaches.
As ever, demand is likely to be high, so it is worth reserving a seat as soon as possible if you want to attend. You can find much more information about each seminar here.
F&SS custody charges
The Funds & Shares Service quarterly custody charge for the period 1 October to 31 December will be debited on, or shortly after, 23 January. It is, therefore, important that you ensure sufficient funds are available within your clients’ Funds & Shares Service cash accounts to pay it.
Our website features a cash management view that makes it easy to see when Funds & Shares Service custody charges and other account deductions are due, and to plan your clients’ cash accounts accordingly.
To view this, simply log into your account, go to the ‘Client list’ tab, then select ‘Cash management’ from the drop down of available views and ‘Apply view’. You can then access the cash management tools for a particular client and account by selecting ‘View’. Regular disinvestments can be established which attract no dealing charges and offer a cost-effective way of disinvesting to ensure ongoing commitments, such as the custody fee, can be covered.
If you would like a short demo of our cash management tools, please contact the Business Development Team on 0345 40 89 100.
Final salary transfers
Despite huge work volumes, our transfer team continues to perform well – as evidenced by the monthly service performance infographic that you will find elsewhere in this newsletter.
Having said that, we are currently receiving a greatly increased number of incoming Defined Benefit transfer requests which, for reasons you will appreciate, cannot be processed using Origo. As a result, all discharge paperwork associated with these kinds of transfers has to be completed and submitted manually – this is something you must keep in mind when the current transfer value is close to the end of its guarantee period.
As good as our turnaround times are, we really need to receive paperwork for such transfers at least five days in advance of an expiry date, and seven days if you are also setting up a new SIPP. Where timescales are tight, feel free to pick up the phone to the Transfers Team who will be happy to help. You can reach them on 0345 83 99 060.
Declaring annual allowance charges
Do you have clients who exceeded their annual allowance in the 2015/16 tax year and do not have sufficient unused annual allowance to carry forward from previous tax years? HMRC has asked us to provide a reminder that declarations of any tax charges due must be made in the 2015/16 self-assessment tax return. You can find more info here.
Five star rating
I am delighted that the AJ Bell Investcentre SIPP has once again been awarded the maximum rating of five stars by Moneyfacts, one of the UK’s leading independent providers of personal finance research and information.
The annual Moneyfacts Star Ratings criteria are based on the weighting of specific product features, with emphasis placed on features that could be of most relevance to advisers and their clients.
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. We will update this in each issue and flag any hotspots which may occur, particularly in the lead-up to peak periods.
The information below is not provided as a formal measure of our service levels, but rather to give you a general flavour of how our Customer Services Team is currently performing. Looking across all of the areas listed below, we are hitting the indicative timescales provided in 95% of cases.
Adviser Support Team
Phone: 0345 83 99 060
Business Development Team
0345 40 89 100