Welcome to our quarterly newsletter. So far 2016 has seen prolonged uncertainty due to continued question marks over the state of the global economy, tax revelations from Panama, the outcome of the US presidential primaries and the machinations over the impending EU referendum. All of which might explain why we have witnessed the lowest recorded investment volumes in the run up to the end of the tax year.
In Marchâ€™s budget, the industry dodged, for now, Georgeâ€™s much predicted Pension ISA bullet, but still managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat and surprise us all with the seemingly controversial Lifetime ISA. We have our usual budget, Impacts on Financial Services Businesses summary below.
Closer to home, our Business Systems group has been kept busy with further development of the Altus Transfer Gateway. Version 2.9 is scheduled for release later this month and now includes support of Junior ISA, Child Trust Fund and in-specie pension transfers. Our work is never done however, so the all-important version 3.0 is due for release in November 2016. See more detail below.
Our Consulting division responded to the FAMR consultation and report, suggesting it should have been simpler and more radical in order to encourage innovation. Robo-advice is still very much a hot topic and our Consultants remain at the forefront of discussions with organisations that range from fintech start-ups to established brands. Their whitepaper released in February and corresponding event proved to be the most popular download ever and our industry event was standing room only.
Finally, as part of our 10 years in business celebrations, weâ€™ve taken a reflective look back through a series of blogs. Weâ€™ve witnessed, first-hand, the increasing pace of change during this time and I have a suspicion that the summer months ahead will be no different.
Whilst the industry focusses on developing the pension dashboard the proliferation of small pension pots continues unchecked.
This whitepaper examines how multiple short-term employments and the consequential proliferation of small pension pots is likely to affect not only low paid workers but the industry which serves them.
Altus supports the pension dashboard, but does not believe it will be enough to solve the small pots problem. This paper shows how the industry could ensure the millions of savers being automatically enrolled into pension schemes donâ€™t end up losing the money they save each month to charges.
It takes 10 times longer to transfer a pension in-specie than it does for a Stocks and Shares ISA. And the impact on customers will increase as the effects of pension freedoms play out.
Altus has undertaken research with leading SIPP providers to better understand how well customers are served by current pension transfer arrangements. The results show that, on average, in-specie pension transfers (involving nothing more complicated than UK funds and equities) are taking between 6 and 18 weeks to complete. Compare this with the typical in-specie ISA transfer time of less than 5 days. Read more...
A Budget that was shaping up to be fairly unexciting got interesting right at the end with the introduction of the Lifetime ISA. Many readers will recognise this as a variation on an idea coined by Michael Johnson of the Centre for Policy Studies. Having received a violent reaction to this when presented to the industry last year, it is surprising to see its introduction by the chancellor.
That said, this may be a very clever move designed to popularise the idea with consumers and test the market before tackling the pension tax relief problem later. Should Lifetime ISAs become mainstream â€“ and their flexibility and simplicity suggests they could be popular among younger savers â€“ they could well be a big step towards replacing the Exempt-Exempt-Taxed (EET) pension tax regime with TEE. Somewhat later than planned, this would deliver the chancellor the windfall he is looking for to cut the national debt.
We believe that a bigger pension reform is not off the table, simply set aside for later.
Altus Business Systems has announced the latest release of its market leading software - Altus Transfer Gateway (ATG) v2.9.
ATG v2.9 supports open interoperable standards for transfers and asset re-registration and is currently being used by over 30 of the leading Investment Platforms, Wealth Managers and D2C/execution only stockbrokers.
The new capabilities and enhancements can be summarised into the following key areas;
Support for a wider range of wrappers including Flexible ISAs, Junior ISAs, Child Trust Funds and in-specie pension transfers.
Extendable and customisable workflow capabilities to automate and control the entire end to end client portfolio and asset transfer process for all wrappers and assets classes.
Enhanced Integration capabilities for both â€˜real-timeâ€™ and â€˜batchâ€™ integration models providing better automation and straight-through-processing.
Improved security models to support the segregation of data, functions and business rules to support multiple brands, departments and/or outsourcing models.
Better support for â€˜manual/paperâ€™ counterparties with enhanced document generation, automated reminders and follow ups.
Enhanced support for CREST asset transfers including with support for member accounts.
This release is part of the continued investment in the development of the Altus Transfer Gateway (ATG).
As part of our 10 years in business celebrations, Altus has put together a series of blogs looking back over the last 10 years of the financial services industry.
The first of these blogs looks at client money and the ever expanding waistline of the CASS sourcebook. The second takes a look at the the political landscape over the past 10 years and its impact on regulations and the FS industry overall and finally a look back to 2006 and the infamous A-Day when an overhaul of pension taxation took place - supposedly the last big tax reform for a generation.
In February, attendees from over 40 organisations representing the great and good from the Platform, Funds Management, Wealth Management and Stock Broking worlds gathered in London for the Altus Transfer Gateway (ATG) User Group. The meeting was held at SEIâ€™s wonderful new offices in Finsbury Square and thank you to SEI for being brilliant hosts.
The meeting opened with a review of the ATG development road map for 2016 with details of the new enhancements in ATG version 2.8 and the planned lead up to version 3.0 scheduled for release towards the end of this year. Once the formal presentations were out of the way the bulk of the time was spent discussing operational issues and how different organisations have addressed them. It is a great way for the ATG user base and the wider transfers community to share â€˜operational best practicesâ€™ and resolve any inter-operational challenges. The meeting was followed by the very popular ATG Master Class training session where the delegates are shown some of the advance configuration options available with the latest version of ATG and get the opportunity to ask â€˜How-toâ€™ type questions.
If youâ€™d like copies of the slides and discussion notes from the User Group and/or if youâ€™re interested in attending the next meeting please email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Fascinating blog talking about how we all use banking technology such as contactless payment so easily yet this technology is extremely complicated and comes with a hefty 3% mark-up on purchases. Whilst a quarter of the worldâ€™s population has no access to traditional banking at all and even if they did â€“ how much could they afford it.
These points bring into question the options for â€˜doing awayâ€™ with these systems and processes and instead looking to bitcoin and blockchain for the answers. The blog describes the opportunities that exist currently and in the future â€“ near-future. Read more...