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Cards on the table: Ascentric goes all-in

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Itâ??s been ages since Iâ??ve blogged, mainly as itâ??s been a while since a provider made a big pricing shift. Most of the activity on that front in recent times has understandably focused on changes to SIPP and drawdown fees following the budget. Quite a number have trimmed charges, with some removing them altogether. Which is good. At the lang cat we firmly believe that customers should be able to GYMBOA[1] with the minimum of fuss.

So, it was good to see AXA Elevate get its ducks in line and make the announcement recently that it was waving goodbye to its £48 SIPP fee. A change that is reflected in the tables youâ??ll see in a bit.

But thatâ??s not why weâ??re here today. No, our blog focuses on Ascentric, as it is the first advised platform for a while to make a full-tilt price move. Not content with successfully dodging an avian rebrand last year (weâ??re imagining the Ascentric management, the Benny Hill theme tune and a pelican. Please make this happen.) the platform arm of Royal London has made a pretty big adjustment to its pricing strategy. A move that includes a Brand. New. Shape. Ooft.

Letâ??s look at the changes;

  • Gone is the clunky mix of fixed fee and bps charge in the first tier. Customers now pay 0.25% for the first £1 million with a £60 minimum. Not a massive change, but a simpler structure.
  • Standard trading charges have been trimmed from £12.50 to £9.50.
  • As previously announced, annual SIPP admin is reducing from £150 to £100. (Remember VAT on top)
  • Perhaps the biggest change though is the introduction of a bundled pricing shape. With this, youâ??re all-in on the fund side for 0.30% for the first £1 million, with any funds above being charged at 0.10%.

So, how do these changes affect our heatmaps? Remember that for our blogs we only show a highly scientific (chortle) subset of providers and fund values here. Fully paid up subscribers to our Platform Guide will get more detail in our next quarterly update.

Usual assumptions of ongoing platform and wrapper charges plus the cost of 10 switches apply.

SIPP first:

And ISA/GIA:

Asc_ISA

Straight off the bat we can see that the new shapes are keener than the old, with the new all-in shape in particular shaving a fair few basis points off at the lower end. (34bps in SIPP at £50k is a big difference)

The AXA Elevate SIPP fee removal is reflected here too, with the stepped platform fee being the only charge applicable so what you see now is a mirror image of charges in both tables.

Thereâ??s no denying that Ascentric has struggled a bit of late in our tables, mainly due to our 10-trade assumption highlighting that its £12.50 charge for funds was a big blind. So the all-in shape makes a big difference and advisers have a pretty full house (we’ll stop the poker references now) of choice depending on how your trading mileage varies.

In the standard option, trimming trading charges to £9.50 is a welcome move, but still pricey on the fund side. For equities, itâ??s broadly in line with the rest of the market bar some renegades like AJ Bell. Ascentric is proud of its ETP trading, which it says is getting better spot prices than others manage, but we havenâ??t tested this out, so if thatâ??s your thing then take a closer look.

The £100 SIPP fee still hurts at the lower end, but itâ??s good to see Ascentric following the momentum of the market and reducing this from £150. It will be even better if it can follow this up with more cuts. Zero is now the market norm for additional costs for an on-platform SIPP.

Weâ??ll go into more details in our subscriber update but for now we conclude that this is a good move overall. Weâ??ve shoed Ascentric in the past about the complexity of its structure  but these changes â?? particularly the all-in shape â?? will probably mean we have to shut up.

And finally, good luck to Hugo Thorman as he moves onto whatever’s next. All the best from everyone at the lang cat.

[1] Get Your Money Back Out Again. See The Value of Nothing for more.

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About Steven Nelson

One third of team data. Certified millennial despite colleague views to the contrary. Known for his above average data and excel skills. Research and insight specialist with particular expertise in platform pricing.

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