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Platform updates

We have now completed the latest improvements on the platform, which are listed below.

What’s changed?

  • Transactions information available at a client and firm level
  • Portfolio number visible on all screens when working on a client
  • A remuneration total when viewing the remuneration statement
  • The ability to delete payments in that are no longer proceeding

As part of our ongoing commitment to keep advisers informed, we want to make you aware of a couple of topics that have prompted a few questions recently. Please note this only relates to clients who invest in DFM model portfolios and fully invest, without holding a cash balance.

A question of timing

If your client is invested in a DFM model portfolio and you place a switch out of the model when there are outstanding platform and adviser charges, some of the cash realised from the sell element of the switch will be used pay these outstanding charges.

This means the buy element of the switch cannot complete as there is not enough cash available to buy the value of funds required to complete the switch. When this happens, the residual cash realised from the sale will remain within the relevant product wrapper until enough cash becomes available to fully fund the buy.

We can confirm this has always been part of the platform functionality, however, to help prevent this happening we recommend you:

  • Check the cash balance of the product wrapper before instructing a switch, if there is a negative cash balance or a charge is due to be deducted imminently you will need to place a sell to cover the charge, before instructing the switch. Or you can process separate sell and buy transactions in place of the switch, please note the client may be out of the market slightly longer than they would be for a standard switch.
  • Check all trades you place complete within the appropriate timescales.

The client’s cash balance can be found in the cash summary and cash statement that are accessed via the portfolio dashboard.

Please be aware that if this occurs and your switch is for 100% of the client’s assets you will need to contact us to cancel the buy to enable you to re-key it for the revised lower amount.

Regular contributions into a DFM model portfolio

When a client is investing into a DFM model via a regular direct debit instruction there must be enough cash within the product wrapper to buy into the chosen DFM model. If there is a negative cash balance the platform will use some of the regular contribution to clear the negative balance. This means there will be insufficient cash to purchase the DFM model and the residual regular contribution will remain in cash until a buy is instructed. To prevent this from happening you can:

  • Hold a cash balance of around 2% in the product wrapper
  • Use a proportionate disinvestment strategy for clients who invest in DFM portfolios
  • Change the regular payment collection date so that it doesn’t coincide with platform and adviser charges being taken

The reason this is so important, for this subset of trades, is that your clients could be out of the market if the steps we have outlined are not taken. We can only provide detriment compensation where a platform or service issue has occurred, the scenarios described above are normal platform behaviour and we therefore cannot provide detriment compensation in these circumstances.

Please be aware the above does not affect other trades such as: re-balances of DFM models, sells from DFM model portfolios or switching of other assets such as adviser model portfolios and mutual funds.

If you have any questions, please contact your Platform Adoption Consultant.

We have now launched the fourth phase of our screen improvements; these are the latest developments in our project to update all the screens by the end of 2020.

Process changes:

  • Tools will be accessible on the go, through mobile devices
  • One consolidated place to view all transactions at a firm and client level
  • More intuitive display of business reports and client details
  • Advance document library refreshed, making it easier to search and locate documents

Additionally, the following screen and processes have been updated:

  • Add and maintain user
  • Investment panel of funds
  • Link portfolios
  • Ongoing, one off and regular initial adviser remuneration
  • Cash account 

With these changes will mean:

  • removal of pop up screens
  • Process summaries before submission
  • Simplified menu
  • Improved on screen instructions
  • Consistent look and feel across the Platform
  • Enhanced mobile capabilities

The following process will no longer be accessed via the portal. Information and guides on how to complete these processes can be found here.

  • New trust portfolios and additions to existing trusts.
  • Notepad amendments
  • Maintaining treasured assets
  • Capped to FAD conversions
  • Shortlist management

We have now launched the third phase of our screen improvements; these are the latest developments in our project to update all the screens by the end of 2020.

We’ve made changes to many processes in this latest update:

  • New Model Portfolio Management screen for all model portfolio functions
  • Improved usability on all trading screens
  • New Manage Payment screen to delete, edit and add payments in
  • Consolidated screen for managing investment withdrawals
  • Phasing screens updated with new look and feel

These changes provide:

  • Process summaries before submission
  • Simplified menu
  • Improved on screen instructions
  • Consistent look and feel across the platform
  • Reduction in pop up screens
  • Enhanced mobile capabilities

We have now launched the second phase of our screen improvements; these are the latest developments in our project to update all the screens by the end of 2020.

What’s New:

Managing Clients in retirement

  • A new Retirement Account dashboard to bring your retirement account needs into one place, allowing you to easily view and administer One consolidated view of all pension arrangements including arrangement type, value and income in payment
  • Top ups, illustrations and income changes can all be processed from the same dashboard
  • New summary of changes before submitting income, including timescale for payment
  • More intuitive processes making it easier to manage your clients

When making changes to a Retirement Account you will now need to navigate to the Retirement Account dashboard.

Investment withdrawals

  • New summary of changes stating the full details of a withdrawal before you submit along with a timescale for payment

The benefits to the changes we have made are;

  • Easier and wider accessibility for tablets
  • More intuitive and simplified menus
  • Summary of changes, to help reduce risk
  • Time saving; plan information is more easily accessible

And we are not finished yet, more changes are planned for Autumn and Winter 2020.

If you have any further questions about any of these updates and how they will impact you, please speak to your Business Account Manager.

Changes to drawdown illustrations; Tax year end tweaks

We have made a few changes to the Zurich Intermediary Platform following the FCA’s Retirement Outcomes Review and the end of the 2019/20 tax year.

Changes to drawdown illustrations

The Retirement Outcomes Review sought to investigate how consumers and providers were responding to the pension freedoms introduced in 2015. Among the changes the FCA made was an obligation on providers to make the cost of drawdown products clearer and more comparable for consumers. As a result, we will be making some changes to Illustrations.

What is changing?

Currently we use nominal terms in our drawdown illustrations but, from 6 April, we will use real terms (inflation adjusted). When a client requests it for either drawdown or UFPLS, the first page of an illustration will also provide a summary, including details of their first-year charges in monetary terms and the projected date of when their crystallised pot within their Retirement Account will run out.

What does this mean for my client?

This adjustment means customers in drawdown will see a reduction in the projected figures in the illustrations in their April quarterly statements. The changes will also apply to any drawdown Illustrations produced on the portal after 6 April.

Is anything else changing as a result of the ROR?

There are further changes recommended by the regulator coming into effect in July 2020. One of these is to supply MiFID-style costs and charges for any customers invested in a drawdown arrangement. As we have been supplying this information since 2019, there is no additional disclosure we will be providing.

Budget 2020: An update on allowances

Any changes to allowances made as a result of Budget 2020 will also be included on the Zurich Intermediary Platform at the same time as the changes to illustrations. This includes changes to the lifetime allowance and income tax bands, as well as the increase in the Junior ISA limit to £9,000.

Confirmation of payee

From 31 March 2020, there will be changes within the banking system for payments made by CHAPS or TT.

Banks will check that the name of the account holder matches the name we have provided on the payment. This is the name entered when the bank account is added to the platform, and is to aid prevention of fraudulent claims or payments.

For every payment, the banks will determine if the bank account holder’s name is an exact match, a partial match, or no match.

We will then have a procedure in place to check we are paying the correct account. This means there could be a delay in the payment reaching the client if we do not hold the exact account name for TT or CHAPS payments.

Scottish and Welsh Rate of Income Tax

With both the Scottish and Welsh now being able to set their own Tax rates, we have made some changes to the new business journey, when a Retirement Account has been selected. This is in readiness for when we are able to instantly look up the clients UK Tax Jurisdiction with HMRC. The link to HMRC to establish the client’s tax residency is not yet available, so currently the new business journey will show and use the rest of the UK rate. The client’s tax residency is based on where they lived when the first PRAS claim was made in the current tax year and will apply to the rest of the tax year. The tax jurisdictions are Scottish, Welsh, Rest of the UK and unknown. If no National Insurance number has been input at the point of selecting PRAS, unknown will be returned from HMRC (when the link is established) and we will use the rate for the rest of the UK. Currently rates are all the same so there will be no difference for the gross payment amounts.

HMRC will send updates at the start of each tax year, confirming the UK Tax Jurisdiction that we will need to use for each client for that tax year.

We will confirm when the link with HMRC is fully operational.

We have removed Pension Illustration wizards. The use of this wizard has reduced so significantly since the changes to the new business journey was implemented in 2018 that they are no longer required.

Following the introduction of GDPR last year, we will no longer hold client data that has been collected on the Platform for which we do not have a signed declaration from a customer and there has been no activity for six months.

This includes a rolling programme of deleting un-submitted plans which have been sitting in Work in Progress (WIP) for more than six months when we do not have a signed contract with a customer and there has been no activity for 6 months.

It is important to note the six month period starts when the WIP is last saved. If the Account/Wizard is opened and resaved the clock is reset and there is no deletion of information when we have received a signed declaration, even if no money has been received.

These changes have been made to ensure we meet with GDPR requirements.

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