Never out of fashion 

There are certain things that never, ever go out of fashion.  One is great customer service.  Gill wrote about this in her blogpost last week - and it's something we need to keep a focus on because - to be frank - one doesn't these days see a great deal of service within financial services.   There are rare exceptions, and as IFAs our emphasis ought to be on being that kind of exception.

But there is something else which never goes out of fashion, and that's great value.

At the intermediation level, we demonstrate great value, by delivering a service which simply exceeds the client's expectations, irrespective of how much they are paying for it.  Indeed, you could argue that, the higher our charges, the greater the scale of over-delivery needs to be.

But, as IFAs, we're not exactly disinterested in the value-equation, when it comes to selecting individual products for the client.  And, in that respect, I wanted to highlight Parmenion's excellent new (SIPP) pension wrapper.  When we heard that it was coming, we did get a little giggly and excitable, but actually the reality has proven even more impressive.

We have always tried to test out new developments on ourselves, before we use them for clients.  In this case, a staff-member wished to effect a replacement pension, and had patiently hung on until Parmenion launched the new wrapper on the 6th April, and sorted out any initial teething issues.  Bearing in mind that our staff arrangements don't suffer from Adviser Charges, it may still be a pleasant surprise to see the TER coming out at 0.54%, inclusive of fund-manager's annual charge and Parmenion's custodial fees.  There are no extra costs for this plan (other Wraps will usually charge a plan fee for the pension wrapper) - and actually the TER overstates the position for a staff member, who will get 'staff terms' (waiving 0.25% initial and 0.3% annual custody charge).  

For most IFAs, one would hope that the implications of this for their own pensions would not be entirely lost - where, effectively, the only cost is that of the underlying fund charges.

However you want to view things, this is simply great value, even on normal terms.  The client benefits from a low-cost, risk-graded, efficient investment solution, auto-rebalancing at a sub-stakeholder price-point, and a solid, cutting-edge administrative framework. The adviser benefits from a streamlined, intuitive online illustration and application process, that includes risk-profiling and the full range of investment options that ValidPath have developed or facilitated on Parmenion's system.  Based upon this first case, never has pension investment been so straightforward and cost-effective for both client and adviser.

Kevin Moss, 02/05/2014