Following their recent rebrand Investment Sense caught up with Iain Herbertson, Managing Director of City Trustees.
You been around for many years now, for those people who are perhaps not familiar with the name can you start by telling us a little more about City Trustees?
Iain Herbertson (right):
City Trustees have indeed been around for a number of years, we were established in 1996, and specialise in providing specialist self-invested pensions distributed through IFAs.
We focus on what we would call the “true” end of the self-invested pension market and offer both SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pensions) and SSAS (Small Self Administered Schemes) options.
Our range of SIPPs include our Bespoke SIPP, Pooled SIPP and Family SIPP; we are also in the process of launching our One Drawdown SIPP, more of which later!
We are part of the Mattioli Woods Group, which provides us with significant financial strength and stability.
Tell us more about your recent rebrand:
We wanted to build on the good work since 1996 and emphasise the fact that whilst City Trustees is now part of the larger Mattioli Woods Group of companies, we are a distinct brand in our own right with a strong identity being the specialist IFA distribution arm of the group, therefore retaining our name and range of products. The rebrand is in line with our parent company and allows us to emphasise the depth of knowledge and specialisms within the group to deliver genuine self-invested pensions supported by strong customer service. The new messaging will enable us to highlight our core proposition to IFAs of personalised quality administration, bespoke technical support, fully flexible products, a transparent fee structure and financial strength and security.
Being a distinct brand within the group allows us to support IFAs in areas such as technical seminars, quarterly pension newsletters and technical fact sheets. It also allows us to focus on building strong relationships with IFAs who provide advice in the self-invested pensions market and for those keen to develop and advise in this specialist area post-RDR.
So, what would you say were the main strengths of City Trustees?
In a crowded market place, it is vital that we differentiate ourselves from other SIPP providers and I believe we do this via a combination of different factors.
Firstly we focus on the genuine self-investment end of the market with a definite, and apologies for the jargon, “can-do” attitude towards both HMRC legislation and retirement options.
Investment choice is one of the key differentiators between varying SIPP providers, we do not work on a panel basis and believe that a bespoke SIPP should facilitate true self-investment. We therefore look to allow most investments that are HMRC permissible (non-taxable) and used for genuine retirement purposes.
Secondly, each scheme, whether it is a SIPP or a SSAS, has its own account manager and we offer technical support to all our members and IFAs.
Thirdly, our fee structure is transparent, and offers excellent value for money whilst providing us with a sustainable business model.
Finally, we offer an innovative approach to retirement planning, for example our new One Drawdown SIPP is an exciting new option for those people who want to use Flexible Drawdown. In keeping with our flexible approach, we allow all ‘at retirement options’ including Capped and Flexible Drawdown, Annuity purchase as well as Scheme Pension.
The One Drawdown SIPP sounds interesting, tell us more
The One Drawdown SIPP is perfect for people who want immediate vesting of their pension under Flexible Drawdown rules. Simply put the scheme receives transfers in, pays the tax-free lump sum where necessary and then makes a one off payment under Flexible Drawdown rules.
The product is simple with a simple and transparent charging structure.
We believe that Flexible Drawdown will become more and more popular and that the One Drawdown SIPP will be ideal for those people wanting to access their fund in one lump sum rather than a series of annual income payments.
When choosing a SIPP provider for our clients our team of IFAs complete lengthy due diligence, looking at a range of criteria including financial strength, profitability, and service as well as charges plus a range of other criteria. How do City Trustees shape up?
We recognise that it is no longer enough to be the cheapest or most flexible, both members and IFAs want more, and we believe we shape up very well.
Firstly, being part of the Mattioli Woods Group provides us with significant financial stability, for example we currently operate on capital adequacy levels double the minimum required by the FSA (Financial Services Authority). This puts us in a strong position if the FSA decide, as we believe they will, to increase the level of capital SIPP providers need to hold.
Secondly, we are a profitable organisation, which is not always the case with every SIPP provider.
Thirdly, service is a key element of our proposition. We believe that the level of service is often a reflection on the financial position of a business; if the financials are not adding up costs often have to be cut, which can impact on service levels.
Each SIPP or SSAS has a named account manager dealing with all aspects of the scheme, ensuring an in-depth knowledge of each particular scheme, especially as our account managers each only look after a limited number of schemes.
When it comes to charges, our fee structure is transparent and competitive, it also allows us to deliver a profitable business model, something vital to the future stability of City Trustees and therefore our members.
There has rarely been as much speculation as there is now regarding the future of the self-invested pension market, what do you see as being the main challenges over the next 12 months?
We believe there are two key challenges; profitability and capital adequacy, both of which will drive consolidation in the SIPP market over the coming 12 months or so.
It seems clear that the FSA will increase the level of capital SIPP providers need to set aside. For the well run and profitable providers, such as ourselves, this should pose few problems, however others may not find it so easy.
We also believe that the self-invested pension market will continue to grow, driven in particular by the specialist providers such as ourselves.
Iain Herbertson is Managing Director of City Trustees and can be contacted on 0207 269 4711 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this article are those of City Trustees.