Aviva and FNZ up a tree, R-E-PLAT-FORM-I-N-G

Just a quick few thoughts on the news from Aviva today that it plans to migrate its platform from Bravura to FNZ.

For those not intimately involved, Bravura and FNZ, along with GBST (disclosure: GBST is a client of ours) are the three big beasts of outsourced platform technology in the advised space. IFDS is coming up on the rails with its SJP and OMW implementations, and over in D2C-land JHC Figaro is pretty popular, but those three are the big names at the moment.

Aviva’s been in a funny position, with FNZ powering its nascent direct platform and Bravura (who predated FNZ in yellow-and-blue land) doing the advised stuff. After a slow start, Aviva Platform (still a terrible name) has picked up speed and is sitting in a not unadjacent space to £9bn AUA. So this is quite a big undertaking – we think it’s the second biggest replatforming exercise so far in the UK, just behind Ascentric moving £10bn to Bravura from its own Bluebutton platform. So it goes. Swings and the other things you get in playgrounds.

Actually, Aviva was going to need to replatform anyway. Its version of Bravura’s Talisman platform was due for a sort of end-of-life upgrade to the new Sonata platform. This is the journey Nucleus went through last year; and those involved will tell you that while it wasn’t as hard as changing to a completely new platform, it still wasn’t easy. Not even in the neighbourhood of easy.

So something was going to change, and it makes sense for Aviva to use just one piece of kit rather than two. The move to FNZ means that it has a clean sweep of the bigger lifeco platforms, with Aviva, AXA, Standard Life and Zurich all using that kit. Along with its other accounts, we reckon c. £60bn of UK platform assets (in today’s money) will sit on FNZ’s estate by the time this is done.

As an aside, Bravura is up for sale, and while this news will doubtless have been available on an NDA basis for prospective purchasers and analysts involved in considering an IPO, it’s still not great timing.

FNZ will supply administrative and custodial services, we think, to Aviva. That’s a further change away from Genpact, who used to be Citi, who used to be Scottish Friendly Admin Services (not quite as simple as that, but I’m at 360 words already and time’s a-marching). There’s a debate out there about whether there’s any virtue in having admin done in the same place as tech; FNZ will say it’s better, Bravura and GBST will say it’s not such a big deal. You pays your money (quite a lot in this case; Aviva says it’s ‘low tens of millions’ but it’s a long way into its FNZ spend journey already) and you takes your choice.

This will be the first advised replatforming onto FNZ that we’re aware of; everyone else has built from the ground up (SL, AXA, Zurich), or is a first-time platform tech user (Santander, Hornbuckle). So this will be a great test which those of us interested in the space will be watching very closely.

As I’m fond of saying, there is no recorded instance of a replatforming going well. It’s always a schlep. I notice that Aviva is saying that advisers won’t see any difference in the web screens they use – this is a dangerous game. I’ve seen a number of platform developments skid out of control on the basis of changing the user interface. I hope and trust both Aviva and FNZ are all over this already, but that’s definitely a potential pinch point. Quite pleased with that bit of alliteration there.

There is one certainty in this – that stellar communication from Aviva to its supporting advisers is crucial. ‘Don’t worry, ‘appen, it’ll be grand’ is not a sentence anyone should be hearing from our Yorkshire friends. Advisers need to know what’s going on, when, and if there are any bumps along the way then keeping schtum in case someone tells the papers is not helpful. Memories are long, and though Lifetime was a lifetime ago, the ghost of that particularly painful episode still stalks the halls of Welly Row. It can’t be allowed to happen again; to be fair to all at Aviva no-one knows that better than them.

If you’re an Aviva supporter, buckle up. Prepare to be forgiving, but demand transparency at all times. If you’re a competitor, think twice before pointing fingers and laughing at any problems that might occur. It might be you one day, or it might have been you in the past. Schadenfreude isn’t what we need.

Booting ISAs in the baws – tax year end 2015/16

Well now, the IA has just put out its stats for tax year end (TYE) 2015/16 and it’s not nice reading. The full release is here but this table which I nabbed from the release tells quite a story.


2014/15 was generally reckoned to be a relatively sucky year for the ISA season, which has always been a core business period for most platforms and fund managers. Indeed, even platforms who serve advisers still create ‘ISA in a box’ type campaigns. We point and laugh, but they do it anyway.

(NOTE TO SELF: PRODUCT IDEA: Schrödinger’s ISA in a box – your money exists in potentia inside a box with ‘ISA’ written on it, and you don’t get to know if it’s real or not until you open it. Disruptive or what? Some fund manager will probably buy this.)

But even 2014/15 looks like a birthday present compared to the ISA long-term savings and investments (i.e. not cash) sector in 15/16. Q1, according to the IA, saw a net outflow of £573m, and the crucial 1 March – 5 April season saw £237m net inflow, with £177m of that coming in the last 4 days of the tax year.

So there is still an ISA season, but a fraction of what it was.

I should mention here that IA stats aren’t the end of the world – its platform figures are based on just five platforms – Cofunds, Fidelity, HL, OMW and Transact. But there’s enough variation in business model there to give a reasonable degree of confidence that we’re not missing much.

So what gives? Is all the money flowing into pensions? Here’s what the IA release has to say:


For the five fund platforms that provide data to The Investment Association…net sales for March 2016 were £479 million…Personal Pensions had the highest net sales at £430 million, followed by ISAs (£314 million), Insurance Bonds (-£23 million), and Unwrapped (-£242 million)…For the same five fund platforms, funds under management as at the end of March 2016 were £200 billion, compared with £194 billion a year earlier.

Now, that’s pretty interesting. Pension freedoms are still generating higher redemptions than usual in many places, but PPs (which include SIPPs for these platforms) still booted ISAs in the baws with all the relish of…I dunno, something that has a lot of relish. A burger, maybe?

It would be hard not to think that a good chunk of that £242m that disappeared out of GIAs was recycled into pensions, presumably amidst the now-departed pensions fire sale.

So what do we learn? Advisers are pretty insensitive to ISA use-it-or-lose-it marketing; anyone doing a financial plan for someone accumulating wealth who’s wondering ‘hmmm, have my clients used their ISA allowance up?’ probably should be updating their CV. But a genuine tax relief scare is enough to get real money moving around, at least on the face of it.

Over in D2C world – remember that Cofunds, Fidelity and of course HL all have big direct books – these figures confirm what a number of D2C platform providers have been telling us – that getting new ISA investments in at the moment is like…I dunno, something that’s really difficult. German grammar?

When we’re talking about LISAs, WISAs and other new ISAs, we tend to describe them as ‘wildly popular’. Actually, the only popular ISA is a cash ISA. All these new propositions have a long way to go before they disturb the patterned behaviour of treating pensions as what they are; the most favoured mainstream tax planning vehicle.

Similarly, robos and others who think that by getting an ISA to market, they’ll participate in a glorious sort of feeding frenzy where everyone gets a share, should read these figures with a sense of foreboding.


There’s a theme running through the FCA’s Consultation Paper 16/12: Secondary Annuity Market – proposed rules and guidance. If you’ve braved all 112 pages (or any of them really) you might have spotted it. Here are some clues…

Paragraph 1.7 “We believe that there is a significant risk of poor outcomes for consumers in the secondary annuity market.”

Paragraph 1.10 “The Government’s consultation response acknowledges that for most people retaining their annuity will be the best choice as it provides a regular guaranteed, income for life.”

Paragraph 1.11 “We recognise that a secondary market in annuities may deliver flexibility for some consumers. However, we believe consumers selling their annuity income could be exposed to significant risks”.

Positive, eh? And then we get into the detail of those risks:

  • Longevity risk – increased risk of running out of money in retirement.
  • Value for money – consumers may struggle to make an informed decision.
  • Consumer inertia – the old ‘not shopping around’ chestnut.
  • Vulnerability – reduced mental capacity, pressure to settle debts, impact on benefits.
  • Potential conflicts of interest – harking back to the bad old days but at least we can rule out commission as an issue.
  • Potential risk of frauds and scams – natch.
  • Market depth – a lack of players means a lack of price competition.

Now, it is only correct to acknowledge that protections are being put in place. To detail them would be another blog but they are all on the theme of disclosure: charges information, net values, access to guidance, the importance of both shopping around and taking advice and so forth. Which is all good but requires a degree of engagement and understanding. It may not help the vulnerable who are in the most danger of finding themselves without a source of income. There will be no additional measures to protect the vulnerable beyond a reminder of existing obligations. And it is they who are likely to make up much of the clientele. Which is a deeply uncomfortable thought.

This takes me back to when the prospect of a secondary annuity market was confirmed and the question of whether it would effectively be DOA. The feeling of the whole thing being done through gritted teeth and with caveats emitting from every pore persists. It doesn’t exactly scream enthusiasm from anyone bar a few determined politicians, some ever-resourceful scam artists and the inevitable band of claim firms who will join us once the cries of mis-selling start, if not before.

Yes, it’s good to give people who are genuinely trapped in an annuity and who, by some twist of sums would be better off out of it, the option. But how many people really fall into that category? And how many who do not and are vulnerable might find themselves making another poor decision? Specifically those who are in debt or are desperate for money, are under pressure or just not capable of making an informed decision. They deserve our care and protection, not to be turned upside down and shaken by the ankles.

The risks are not limited to annuity holders and it begs the question of how many firms will expose themselves to that extent for what may be limited gains. Which, in turn, drives one of the risks noted by the FCA – if the market does not have enough players, prices offered to annuity holders will likely be even lower.

So, a terrible idea that no-one really wants and where very few people will benefit while many more are likely to suffer. And I’m pretty *****y angry about the whole thing. But it’s happening. And the best we can hope for is that the gimlet eye of the regulator will be firmly trained on all parties.


There’s a new endangered species to add to the ever growing list. Never mind your black rhinos or your Sumatran orangutans. No, the one we need to worry about is UFPLS.

The ABI has called time on pensions jargon. It’s consulting on a new guide to pensions language which will clear away the confusing in favour of simplicity to make it all easier to understand and help consumers make more effective comparisons.

The consultation (which is open until 19 June) appears to be one of those rare occasions where everyone (ABI, industry, government and consumer groups) is cheerleading for the same team. Where something is being allowed to be a ‘good idea’ without the other team waiting in the wings ready to wind it with a vicious, and extremely well aimed, football.

And it is a good thing. As an industry we have always struggled with what should be the simple act of talking to our customers. There are those of us who love their jargon and cling to it because knowing words other people don’t makes them feel a little bit special. There’s a word for them too. However, we know very well just how hard some companies have fought over the years to be rid of it. We know this because sometimes they ask us to help them.

We’ve found ourselves reading through a lot of literature over the years. Frankly even that is jargon. No disrespect to any of our fine providers but I’ve never found myself reading a set of SIPP key features and confusing it with Jane Austen. Anyway, on a first read, it can be easy to think ‘Well this could be better’ and often things could. But it’s not always a fair fight. Many times the conversation has turned to ‘Yes, we’d like to change the wording but that’s what it’s called, isn’t it?’.

As frustrating and awkward as some of our industry language is, we are bound to use it. Consumers need consistency when comparing offerings and if one provider called it an UFPLS and another called it ‘a taxable lump sum you can have before you take out drawdown or an annuity’ then things probably wouldn’t be any better. Although I suspect that ‘new kitchen fund p.s. you’ll have to pay some tax on top’ would probably work for a good number. Consistency is one of the ABI’s priorities in the new guide and we wish them well with it.

There is one question that bothers me. How well will any of us cope in a completely jargon free environment? It has always been there. It’s familiar and reliable (except when it all changes and then we get new jargon to play with, which is fun too). Perhaps it’s not so much a question of whether we can kill off the jargon but if we will all fare better than UFPLS in the brave new world?

All change in platform land

After a quiet few months in platform land it feels like things are about to change, and potentially quite dramatically. There are a number of rumours doing the rounds, here, here and here, and these are just the ones that have been published. At lang cat HQ we do have a view as to how likely each of these are, but if you want to know you’ll have to pick up the phone. Whatever happens, the current speculation does raise questions for advisers, especially in light of the recent FCA paper on platform selection and due diligence. And if any of these rumours do prove to be true, then there will be a big “so what” being asked by thousands of advisers.

So what should advisers be doing? If your platform, or tech supplier to said platform is going to change ownership then we don’t think it’s panic stations time, but it does raise questions that need to be asked. It’s important to assess the provider’s ability to continue to provide the service that you expect. This requires an understanding of (but not a forensic deep dive) their financial strength, their commitment to the market and their plans to manage the period of change. Providers should be on the front foot here, giving advisers the answers before they are asked, but if they are not, advisers should be asking. Poor communication from the provider during a period of significant change is probably not a good sign.

Of course, client suitability is king, and as a result we believe any change of ownership is unlikely to see a mass migration of existing assets. However, the FCA did recently warn against “status quo bias” so there is potentially a tricky “stick or twist” decision to be made. There are some interesting (or at least we think so) comparisons to be made when you assess the pricing of the platforms rumoured to be merging, so as well as the more strategic questions to be asked we suspect advisers will also want to know what it all means for individual clients. Bearing in mind the size of the platforms rumoured to be involved this could be a big exercise.

Providers who can communicate well, reassure advisers that the change will be a positive one, and then back up their messages with actions will have nothing to fear. Those that don’t will find most of their competitors will be wading and clearing up. A merger or change of ownership creates challenges throughout the organisation. There is a temptation to focus on the technology side, and whilst this is not insignificant, unless something goes badly wrong we don’t feel it will make or break the success of a merger. The ability for the entire organisation to focus on the needs of their customers, deliver on these needs, and keep advisers informed and supported throughout the process will.


He likes to work a crowd does our Gideon. To be fair, it’s his big moment of the year. The key note speech. The one time people will generally sit and listen to him with only a modicum of heckling. But even at that he was outclassed and upstaged. Between Theresa May’s cleavage and the dulcet tones of the deputy speaker, we’re left wondering if he had any idea how far his audience was drifting off. If not, a quick check of the #Budget2016 thread on Twitter should clarify things for him. Certainly those of us who were poised in a cat like (natch) state of readiness for the merest mention of anything to do with pensions and/or tax relief had started to wilt after well over an hour of high speed train links, bridge toll cuts and the sugar tax. Which, let’s face it, is all anyone is going to be talking about.

But then, right at the very end, when we would have given up and returned the office Sonos system to questionable tunes except for the fact that we know better, there it was.

Hello, Lifetime ISA. It sounded pretty interesting at first. Lots of perked ears and ‘oh, that could be it for pensions this time’ and the like. Not to mention questions over how it will impact auto-enrolment. And then came the detail in the form of a one page fact sheet.

Lifetime ISAs launch in April 2017 and will be available to anyone over 18 and under 40.

You can invest up to £4,000 per year until you hit 50 and get a 25% top up from the government (or 20% tax relief on the total sum invested depending on how you look at it).

You can use it towards a first home purchase (Help to Buy ISAs can be transferred in) or for retirement savings. Which is where the shine starts to fade a little.

If you want to use it for a first home, fine. Take it and enjoy browsing John Lewis for kitchenware, just go easy on the Cath Kidston.

What about retirement then?

To recap, you get your 25% (ish) from the government for any funds deposited before you hit 50. And then you get to stare longingly at your ISA statements for the next decade. You can keep contributing but there will be no more government funded top-ups. And if you want to get up close and personal with your savings before the age of 60, it’ll cost you in the form of a 5% exit penalty. Oh, and the government bonus.

A couple of things spring to mind here. Not least of which is the theme of another recent blog.

  1. Pension freedoms – yes, remember that? The thing where by you can access your retirement fund from the age of 55 without incurring an unreasonable penalty. The government feels so strongly about the unreasonable penalty aspect it has instructed the FCA to introduce a cap on early exit fees. According to FCA data around 147,000 of those eligible to access the freedoms (3-4%) would face a charge of 5% or more. Leave that one there shall we?
  2. This is exactly the sort of high jinks (but better) that everyone has spent the last however many years trying to beat out of the industry. And now the chief thrower of stones has seen fit to move into a large and rather ornate greenhouse.

This was heralded as the ‘surprise’ of the Budget. Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations of ‘surprises’ but you play with the toys you are given and we’ve been given the Lifetime ISA. Let the games commence.

E-I-E-I-Oh, not that kind of FAMR then…

We’ve already taken a light touch (ahem) look at the FAMR report overall but, in among all the consultations and not consultations and the stuff that is actually going to happen but will take time and the fact that aspects might get upended by MiFID II at some point over the next 18 months, lies one key question.

Has, or rather might, FAMR achieve what it set out to do? Because if we strip all the other stuff away, it comes down to one simple aim: “affordable and accessible financial advice and guidance for everyone, at all stages of their lives”. It pops up at various points in the FAMR report. It’s even in italics, so we know it’s important.

There are some good bits in the recommendations. If they are put into action then consumers will hopefully benefit. Albeit not for a while. There is no such thing as a quick hit in financial services regulation and the only thing that looks likely to actually happen in the immediate future is kicking off the Financial Advice Working Group. Or FAWG.

There are potential benefits to be had from the development of a clearer regulatory framework around ‘streamlined advice’ *coughrobocough* but also huge potential for it all to go a bit bankered. Which we can’t help but suspect is the more likely option. Cynics that we are.

Improved suitability reports are a positive; anything that makes the process clearer to the client is good. But this won’t drive people to advice who would not otherwise have been there anyway.

The key to much of this is ‘at all stages of their lives’. Retirement itself might have hogged the spotlight over the last couple of years but the industry has been determinedly banging the drum that retirement saving (kind of like a puppy but nothing like as cute or cuddly) is for life. And where do people spend most of their life? Bingo – at work. That place with free wi-fi that isn’t Starbucks. Throw in auto-enrolment and it’s the closest to a guaranteed point of contact as you’re going to get. But, employers have been here before and any previous appetite for supporting employees with financial guidance was quashed by a combination of reprisal avoidance and suddenly wondering why they would absorb a significant cost for something that probably won’t make anyone like them anyway. The proposed fact sheet on ‘spot the regulation line’ and top ten tips for supporting employee financial health may well help with this but only where there is still an appetite from the employer. There may be a few popping up looking enthusiastic like crocuses in a field of snowy mud but the costs and admin pressures of auto-enrolment are weighing heavily on many. Of course, there needs to be an appetite from the individual too.

And therein lies the rub. Does everyone really want financial advice? We want them to. As an industry, we’re always pushing the benefits of advice (I decline to use the V word) as we know the good it can do (not to mention the long-term damage that can be inflicted by poor decisions). But, many are just as resolute that they need no such thing. Some of these will be correct and some won’t. Such is the way of the world.

The focus on technology and streamlined solutions – apart from apparently being more economical – appears to be aimed at the younger end of the market. Having carried out extensive research with the lang cat’s millennial segment (Hey Lucy!) we can confirm that, not surprisingly, the generation that has grown up with Dr Google as a secondary care-giver is pretty happy to carry out their own research and confident to make decisions on the back of it. We’re talking about an ISA, possibly pension fund decisions. Other more complex stuff will follow and at that point the picture may well change. They may also be a more attractive prospect for an adviser by then too. So that all works out in time.

Will FAMR ensure “affordable and accessible financial advice and guidance for everyone, at all stages of their lives”?  We’ll have to wait and see. It might improve the situation for those who are already engaged with the idea but I’m still to be sold on how it will open advice up to everyone.

FAMR: we call bullshit

This is a cow, rather than a bull, but you get the idea, and literal imagery from free photowebsites is all I have the energy for right now.

This is a cow, rather than a bull, but it’s quite a nice picture. The animal’s tongue is sort of funny, and the hair over its eyes means you don’t really know where it’s looking. Anyway, you get the idea, you’re all teed up for the blog, and literal imagery from free photo websites is all I have the energy for right now.

FAMR could have been huge. It could have been beautiful. It could have been the equivalent of three lines of really good crank washed down with a triple espresso for the good end of the advice profession. It could have done so much.

But it didn’t.

Instead, what we got was 80-something pages of prevarication, ‘wisnae-me-guv’ sloping shoulders, and 28 recommendations, 21 of which were suggestions of further consultations, working groups (who’ll do, er, consulting), working parties (Worst. Party. Ever.), working together, exploring options, discussions, and other synonyms for ‘consult’.

The remaining 7 break down like this:

  • 1 new factsheet
  • 1 new advice unit, sort of
  • 1 new campaign to make sure advisers charging adviser charges understand adviser charges
  • 1 nudge to FOS to publish better data
  • 1 nudge to FOS to be open about where they suck and to, in the fullness of time, suck less
  • 1 no-longstop decision
  • 1 new report in 12 months to say how we’ve got on with the consultations

We actually counted a couple in there which were consultations on whether there should be consultations. Lots of the consultations won’t be until 2017, with a following wind (but we’ll be in prepping-for-MiFID II-land by then so don’t hold your breath).

They forgot to put a recommendation in to not bring back commission, but I’ll credit them with that one too.

I’m being harsh, and flippant. Could you tell? But for a paper which had such potential, this really does feel half-a-loaf. Not that you’d know it from the slew of vested interests ‘welcoming’ it, of course.

A few more serious observations:

  •  The decision not to recommend bringing back any form of commission is right. While it would have pleased certain providers, it would have backfired. We don’t know exactly how, but it would have. Any industry which came up with something like indemnified FBRC can’t be allowed to go there again.
  • I’m less sure on the long-stop. I think there was more room for nuance here: or at least a working party to investigate the viability of further consultation, to report back in 2019 or something. They can do it for everything else…
  • Reworking FOS funding to take the heat off firms doing a good job is the best bit of FAMR; we’ll watch closely (as will all advisers, I’m sure) to see how it’s handled.
  • Redefining the advice/guidance split is important. Partly to allow sensible rule-of-thumb advice without needing to create a 30-page suitability letter, but also because it’s one of the biggest danger points for consumers. It’s clear that FAMR is clearing the way for the banks to get back into the market – but without very careful handling, it could end up being bent and broken by organisations which haven’t evolved as far from their high-pressure sales culture as you might think.
  • If I’ve read it right, two key observations of FAMR are that it’s cheaper to distribute through the workplace than one-on-one, and that technology can reduce costs (though try telling that to Old Mutual in light of last week’s £450m platform announcement). I for one am grateful that I’ve had that pointed out to me, unaware as I am of things that are blindingly obvious.
  • Pensions dashboard – this is a Good Thing, but of course implementing it will be brutal. We’ve seen providers unable to give pension investors their own money out in a timely fashion; imagine making them all integrate their data to a central hub. It’s doomed before it’s begun as an industry-generated scheme: the only way to get it to work is to make it compulsory and government-run, and God help us all if that happens. If it could be allied to a pot-follows-member strategy, a bit like SuperStream in Oz, then there might be more hope for it, but that ‘more’ really just means ‘more than zero’.
  • Freeing pension money up to pay for advice prior to retirement has the potential to be a good thing, but (much like the advice/guidance thing) the potential for devilment is massive.

We’ll write much more on all this stuff as we digest it. But it strikes me that FAMR was maybe doomed from the start: for certain it can’t be the fillip to Harriet Baldwin’s career that we all thought it might be.


The advice industry is incredibly well evolved to serve people with money. It is not suited to serving those without money. That’s not its fault: it’s not there to be an engine of social policy. As I read through FAMR’s pages, I’m left with a feeling that what the report would like to say, but can’t, is that what it really wants is sales. All the talk of nudging, of hard and soft incentives, of getting the cost of advice under control – it’s all trying not to acknowledge the old DSF adage that these products (and yes, planners, this is all about products) are sold, not bought.

The paper, then, stops short of redefining how individuals are brought into saving and investing. Its bottom is sore from sitting on the fence. It doesn’t give the clarity that those investing in future propositions crave. As the guys at Nutmeg pointed out, it doesn’t do anything on disclosure and transparency.

All we can do is to hope the many, many forthcoming consultations have teeth and people involved in them who know what the sharp end of giving advice feels like.

Until then, we call bullshit.



Bow before the power of arithmetic: ATS ups charges

So we haven’t had any large price changes for a while, hence no pricing blogs. A debt of thanks, then, to Alliance Trust Savings (ATS) who upped its fixed fee charges last week along with unveiling its results (find Citywire coverage of those here) and rolling out its new GBST-powered system to users.

Now, before we begin I need to disclose that ATS is a client of ours, and we’ve known about the planned changes for a little while, but been under non-disclosure until the announcement went public. So we’re about as conflicted on this as it’s possible to be.

As a result, I’m going to stick to publishing new pricing tables here, or at least excerpts of the full tables. If you want the full bhuna you’ll need to subscribe, which you can do here. Subscribers will get said bhuna at the next Update, which’ll be in April sometime.

What I will say is that it’s the nature of fixed fee propositions that they go up over time. Percentage-based providers catch more as client assets grow, but a £150k ISA is worth the same as a £20k ISA to any fixed fee provider.

How you feel about this particular price rise is up to you – it’s a 20% or £15 bump to the pay-as-you-go shape for ISA and GIA, and 15%-ish or £30 for SIPP. The Inclusive Fee Option version (IFO, which includes 25 trades) and kiddie accounts aren’t changing this time. Direct accounts are the same, except direct clients can’t access the IFO.

Standard Account New annual total Old annual total
ISA £90 £75
Investment Dealing Account £90 £75
Junior ISA £40 £40
First Steps Account £40 £40
SIPP ‘Savings’ Account £180 plus VAT (£216) £155 plus VAT (£186)
SIPP ‘Income’ Account £255 plus VAT (£306). £230 plus VAT (£276)
Child SIPP £80 plus VAT (£96) £80 plus VAT (£96)


For reference, the IFO accounts are £150 for IDA and ISA, £275 for SIPP and £365 for drawdown. Given trading is £12.50 a trip, you’re getting over £300 worth of trades for £60, so IFO looks to be the way to go.

ATS table time (SIPP first and then ISA/IDA):

ATS SIPP pricing ATS ISA pricing













And, unsurprisingly, what we find is that arithmetic still has its day, and flat fee still looks pretty hot at £200k or more for SIPP and £100k or more for ISA/IDA. The bump moves the base at which ATS takes over the lead in the charts, but that’s not surprising.

If you are holding multiple wrappers then you need to factor in the fact (what?) that this is all per-wrapper charging, but otherwise it’s as you were.

Please welcome @langcatlucy

Afternoon, just a short post.

I’m delighted and intimidated in equal measures to say that today we welcome a new addition to the ranks at the lang cat. Please say a heartfelt hello to Lucy Edmans. Hello Lucy!

Delighted, because Lucy has joined to help us fulfil some of the many big plans we have here at lang cat HQ to improve our stuff, particularly around data analysis – including the work we do for our clients, our research publications and the tables that feature all over the national press.

And intimidated, because it became apparent mid-way through her interview that it is going to take the sum total of 2 and a half days, maybe less, for Lucy to become significantly more competent than any of us with data. Here is someone who brought a book on data visualisation to her interview and came prepared with hand-made drawings on how to improve our #heatmaps. So, no pressure then.

Lucy is a proper, capable maths person, having graduated from Edinburgh University a couple of years ago. She also joins us with energy and enthusiasm befitting of someone who is yet to be mercilessly ground down by years in Financial Service. Something to look forward to Lucy.

Lucy does lots of cool stuff in her (soon to be extremely limited – hahaha etc!) spare time including being the only lang cat to play a competitive sport (Netball), playing saxophone (we’ve already established she can play Baker St) and she is a seasoned events organiser. Lucy is already settling in; she is doing a grand job of humouring the rest of the team as we go through a bedding in period of being polite to each other and pretending to be normal, functioning members of society.

Do please take a moment of your time to welcome Lucy. Follow her on Twitter via the alliteratively delightful @langcatlucy.

As you were,