With the first welcome signs of Spring came a flurry of announcements that shook the pensions world. George Osborneâ€™s budget bombshell on pension flexibility was quickly followed by Steve Webb confirming a cap on auto-enrolment pension charges and finally the FCAâ€™s controversial announcement to launch a closed book probe into Zombie funds!
So, just when we thought weâ€™d successfully navigated the RDR and were looking forward to a spell of stability, along comes yet another wave of regulatory change. Whilst we canâ€™t claim any privileged insight into policy, we do believe that our comprehensive models give our clients the best chance to adapt their operating models quickly to the new world and weâ€™re already using them to formulate our own thinking as some of you may have seen in our recent blogs.
Meanwhile, D2C platforms are experiencing impressive growth and attracting plenty of interest from several quarters post-RDR. Our recently released white paper, â€˜Bringing in the Harvestâ€™, looks at some of the opportunities and challenges facing platform providers and highlights the potential to find inspiration outside the world of Financial Services. Weâ€™ll be running an event in early June to expand on this theme where we will be joined by some high-profile names to take a more radical look at D2C platforms of the future.
Finally, a significant milestone was reached recently when TISA Exchange members voted to adopt changes to the TeX legal framework to incorporate pension transfers. This is an important step towards automated, open and interoperable cross industry pension transfers which will drive down costs, promote innovation and ultimately deliver better outcomes for consumers.
Last month Altus launched its latest white paper by Senior Consultant Adam Jones. The paper, entitled 'Bringing in the Harvest: The Future of D2C Platforms', looks at the potential for D2C platforms in the wake of the RDR and discusses the challenges facing providers, especially around customer experience. It explores possible enhancements which could be made to platforms, both in the short and long-term, and challenges platform providers to look outside Financial Services for inspiration.
The white paper has already been a great success with hundreds of downloads and extensive coverage in the trade press (see 'In the press'). In a further development of the white paper themes we will be running an event on the 4th June at SWIFT offices in London with a great line-up of speakers including Charles Stanley, Experian, Google, Rocketer and the lang cat's Mark Polson.
Save the date now! Invites will be sent out mid-April so let us know if you would like one at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll make sure you're added to the invite list.
Major Step Forward for Open Pension Transfers
TeX have completed all the required steps to enable the TeX legal framework to support automated/electronic pension transfers. This is a significant step forward in delivering truly open, interoperable and cross-industry automated pension transfers. Having an open-standards based approach to pension transfers allows multiple suppliers to provide pension transfer solutions that interoperate promoting innovation and driving down costs. You can view the latest TeX legal agreements, including the pension transfer components here.
TeX provides a legal framework to facilitate the automated and electronic transfer of a wide range of UK pension types. It provides indemnification, liability cover, insurance and SLAs for all parts of the pension transfer process. TeX stipulates the use of the UKFMPG Transfer Market Practice, which incorporates ISO 20022 over the highly secure SWIFT network.
Since the introduction of open standards to the ISA transfer process (both funds and cash) a little over a year ago, weâ€™ve seen timescales to complete transfers shrink to minutes and costs drop significantly to below a pound in many cases. Weâ€™ve also seen adoption and coverage rates increase dramatically in recent months with 78% of AUA on platforms and 90% of UK retail funds now â€˜wired upâ€™, with some of our clients achieving over 80% STP rates for transfers.
The volume of pension transfers has grown dramatically in recent years and the growth rate is expected to accelerate. If you would like more information on wider pension transfer market drivers, please see our white paper â€˜Perfect Storm for Pension Transfersâ€™. For further details on the above or to see the Altus Transfer Gatewayâ€™s implementation of the pension transfer process, please feel free to contact us.
Altus joins NAPF
Altus can now announce itsâ€™ status as â€˜Business Memberâ€™ of the National Association of Pension Funds. The NAPF promotes workplace saving for retirement and represents 1,300 UK pension schemes with some 15 million members and assets of around Â£900 billion. Members include over 400 businesses providing essential services to the pensions sector.
As a Business Member, Altus aims to take advantage of the close working relationships between the NAPF and Government Ministers, MPs, officials and regulators to promote the adoption of cross-industry open standards for pension transfers and funds trading. The use of cross-industry interoperable standards, such as ViaNova and the pensions transfer market practices drive down costs, promote innovation and deliver better services and outcomes to pension scheme members.
Altus has been selected as a key consulting partner by a leading global electronic payments provider, as it undertakes a large-scale separation and transformation programme. The provider currently handles 45% of the UK's card payments and processes 5 billion transactions per year globally, representing approximately Â£200 billion in card transaction value. Altus have been engaged to drive forward the overall enterprise architecture and produce the roadmaps for the provider's future state architecture, as it introduces its next generation technology platform.
With innovation and rapid development around electronic payment methods, this is a highly competitive, fast-moving, global marketplace and one to which Altus is pleased to be able to bring its expertise and approach.
Altus will be appearing at several conferences over the coming months starting on the 29th April by exhibiting at the SWIFT Business Forum in London. Returning for its 4th year, the forum brings together 800 + FS professionals to explore the theme of doing good business in an era of re-regulation.
May is a busy month with our debut at Pensions and Benefits UK on the 20th - 21st as well as our second year exhibiting at AMPS Annual Conference also on the 21st May. On the 15th May Consultancy Director Kevin Okell will be speaking at TISA's 'Platforms - Change and Challenges' seminar alongside Mark Polson of the lang cat, Richard Taylor from the FCA and TISA's Jeffrey Mushens to name a few. Kevin will be speaking on 'Operational efficiency - metrics that matter'.
As well as our own D2C Platforms event running on the 4th June (see above), June also sees our return to Henry Stewart for their 'Pensions planning for the individual' conference on the 3rd. As well as exhibiting, Products Director Ben Cocks will also be giving a talk on pension transfers, discussing open standards and the 'pot-follows-member' initiative.
Looking forward to a busy few months and hope to see some of you there.
Last month Altus received positive coverage in a number of local publications with an article covering the history of the company and recognising our contribution to the local economy and community.
MD David Jackson summed up the current focus: "This year is about building more products, and investing in our people. We want to grow organically and train and develop the people we currently have because they are doing a good job."
Our first exhibiting event of 2014 was the 13th Annual ITAS event 25th-28th of February in Luxembourg. Altus Products Director Ben Cocks was speaking at the event on a panel of Funds Automation industry experts. ITAS is a leading fund distribution, fund operations & transfer agency event for TA and Fund Operations participants from domestic as well as a global background.
ALFI attracts the biggest names in the fund industry from Europe, the US, Asia and the Middle East. It brings together in a single venue the worldâ€™s most innovative and best-known fund managers with the most knowledgeable service providers.
With more than 880 professionals from 29 countries last year, the conference continues to grow alongside Luxembourgâ€™s reputation as one of the worldâ€™s premier financial hubs.
Sport Relief Fund Raising
Well Done to 'The Altus All Stars' who raised money for Sport Relief on Sunday 23rd March by running either 1, 3 or 6 miles. The sun shone between intermittent hailstones and the Â£300 target was smashed thanks to all the donations from colleague's, friend's and family. The Altus All Stars raised well over Â£500 and the total is still rising!
Thank you additionally to all our talented cake bakers who produced a sophisticated selection of delicious treats on Friday 21st March raising additional money for the cause! You can still make a donation by clicking here.
Additionally, you can pick up Senior Consultant Adam Jones' short story 'A Game of One Half'' here. All the proceeds go towards Sport Relief!
Sports Relief total (so far)
Altus Business Architecture Training
Over 200 people have now undertaken Altus' popular Business Architecture training course, with another four courses due to be delivered this Spring. Recent attendees include Virgin Money, Tesco Bank, AXA Wealth, Lloyds Banking Group and Alliance Trust. The course content is focused exclusively on business architecture for Financial Services companies and uses real examples, models and case studies to share with delegates our practical experience of dealing with the same challenges they face in their own jobs.
The course was put together following years of experience working within business architecture teams across the FS sector and is continually evolving. As well as training our clients, we use the same course to train our own staff, to support the growth of our Consultancy business. For more information on our on-site courses please contact email@example.com or click here for more details.
Altus Elevates Training
Altus has selected Elevation Learning as its preferred supplier of professional consultancy training and is investing in a programme to further develop the skills of all of its consultants. Elevation Learning recently merged with Cass Business School to become a division of Cass Executive Education and has a track record in the development of consulting and engagement skills for companies worldwide. They are an approved training centre for both the Chartered Management Institute and the Institute of Consulting. Congratulations to Altus Consultants Jon Dean, Gavin Stockley, Fabian Panthen and Michael James who have already successfully completed the Core Consulting Skills course.
Congratulations additionally to our Marketing Manager, Michelle Smith, for completing the Professional Certificate in Marketing (CIM).
MD David Jackson attended the Bath Life Awards on 27th February after Altus was invited as a guest of Minuteman Press (award sponsors). The Bath Life Awards celebrates the best businesses in Bath.
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