The Synaptic Guide to SIPPs

AJ Bell – from SIPP to full platform

AJ Bell’s heritage is in the Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) and Small Self-Administered Pension Scheme (SSAS) markets but today we are one of the leading full service platform operators, offering a wide range of products, extensive investment options and first class service, all at a very competitive cost.

The platform market is extremely competitive. The investment in IT needed to maintain a robust, secure and scalable platform is an ongoing commitment. Platforms that have under invested in their technology in the past are reportedly now spending eye watering sums of money playing catch up.

Over the years at AJ Bell we have been very focussed on maintaining a consistently profitable, stable and well capitalised business in order to maintain the sustained investment that I believe any evolving platform needs.

Our evolution

AJ Bell Investcentre was launched in 2002 under the name Sippcentre. This exciting new proposition offered financial advisers a unique way to help clients reap the benefits of a low-cost online SIPP.

The formula proved popular, and in 2007 we made it even more appealing by acquiring the stockbroker Lawshare (now AJ Bell Securities). By 2008 the extensive range of investments available was boosted with several new off-panel options.

When we launched our ISA and GIA in 2011, Sippcentre became a true investment platform – albeit one with a name that did not quite reflect its new status, so today we are called AJ Bell Investcentre.

AJ Bell today

AJ Bell is a financially strong, profitable company with no debt. We have an excellent track record of re-investing retained profits to ensure our platform can help the adviser improve client outcomes, mitigate risk in their business and increase efficiency by saving time and reducing costs.

Our most recent development was the acquisition of a small asset management operation which adds investment management services to our business. It gives us discretionary permissions as well as the ability to launch our own funds and build new investment solutions that advisers need to service their clients.

Our initial intention is to launch a Model Portfolio Service, utilising passive investments as the underlying vehicles to keep costs low. The new service will enable advisers to offer their clients a high-quality, low-cost portfolio service aligned to their attitude to risk.

In addition, we continue to invest in the day-to-day functionality of the platform. We are in the process of improving the user interface and upgrading the calculation engine on our illustration tool, and work is underway to expand our range of data links to back office providers such as the Iress XPLAN and Intelliflo.

We have also launched a major project which will result in a streamlined new business application process, and an improved look and feel for the website. We also intend to provide a wide range of new functionality, such as a Capital Gains Tax planning tool.

All the investment, expertise and passion that made us a leading SIPP provider is now channelled into delivering high quality online investment services via ISAs, dealing accounts and offshore bonds, as well as our market-leading SIPP.