We have spent the past few weeks comparing the prices charged for drawdown by adviser platforms. Towards the end of last year a handful of platforms cut or dropped drawdown set-up fees. Things appear to have settled down and today we note some major differences in charges.
The results of the analysis were published last week in our Platform Drawdown Pricing and Functionality report. Price comparisons can be tricky as no single scenario reflects reality for any investor. There is the added complication that some platforms offer lower than advertised rates to certain adviser firms. That said, the comparisons offer a useful benchmark for comparing the different platforms.
We took the approach of running 10 different scenarios to reflect various portfolio sizes (ranging from £100,000 to £1m) and to reflect clients invested in model portfolios (with the associated higher annual turnover) and buy-and-hold clients (with lower annual turnover).
The platforms stack up very differently for different scenarios. Smaller portfolios (£100,000 to £250,000) with model portfolios are well served by the likes of FundsNetwork, Parmenion, Axa Wealth Elevate, Nucleus and Old Mutual Wealth. For larger portfolios, James Hay’s Modular iPlan, Aegon, Cofunds, Aviva, FundsNetwork and Parmenion lead the pack in cost competitiveness.
For buy-and-hold investors, with much lower levels of transactions, FundsNetwork, Parmenion, Alliance Trust Savings, Axa Wealth Elevate and Old Mutual Wealth are more competitive for portfolios on the smaller end of the scale. James Hay’s Modular iPlan, AJ Bell Investcentre, Aegon, Cofunds and Alliance Trust Savings are more competitive for larger portfolios.
As you would expect Alliance Trust Savings fares far better in the buy-and-hold scenarios. It ranks among the lowest cost platforms across all our buy-and-hold scenarios. For a buy-and-hold portfolio of £250,000, Alliance Trust Savings costs £350 compared to £600 for the next lowest cost, James Hay. The benefit of flat fees over ad valorem for larger accounts is even starker at £1m, where Alliance Trust Savings costs £350 and Novia comes in at £3,575.
Pricing comparisons are complicated and it took us a PhD in maths plus four analysts to run these! The pricing difference between the top and the bottom can be massive but we did find clusters in the bottom and the middle of the ranks. And of course, we recognise that price is not the only factor in selecting a platform.
Heather Hopkins is research director at Platforum.