Nucleus completes business development team with third regional director

Nucleus, the IFA-owned and controlled wrap platform, has further strengthened its business development team with the appointment of Martin Clement as regional director. Clement joins Nucleus this week from Zurich Intermediary Group where he was the national e-commerce specialist, working with IFAs to improve their business efficiency through the use of technology.  Prior to his position at Zurich, Clement was regional sales manager at Cofunds. Reporting directly to Barry Neilson, business development director at Nucleus, Clement will be responsible for increasing the platform’s presence in the South West and Midlands. His appointment marks the continuing growth of the Nucleus business development team which now includes Mike Wallis (South of England), Russell Dowd (North of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland), and Barry Neilson. Commenting, Neilson says: “Following a high level of interest from potential candidates in the role, Martin’s appointment marks another considerable milestone in the development of Nucleus. His expertise will be fundamental as we expand to meet the ever increasing number of enquiries from IFAs as well as go out and proactively promote the...

Counter-intuitive trends in adviser platform usage and adoption – report reveals

Research to be published on February 25th will show for the first time the combination of platforms advisers are using and will reveal counter-intuitive trends.  The findings form part of a wide reaching quarterly survey of the platform market called The (plat)Form Guide, compiled and researched by independent industry consultants The Platforum. Using adviser adoption and usage data from Touchstone and Unbiased.co.uk, The Platforum has been able to produce the broadest and most up-to-date picture of how advisers are using platforms, not just the number of platforms, but the combinations too. The research has been drawn from over 900 adviser reviews of platforms, 550 adviser firms and 64 in-depth adviser interviews.  By far the most common combination of platforms used is a Skandia, Fidelity and Cofunds mix. The next most common combination is two out of these and a newer wrap proposition, most often Transact. Cofunds and Transact, as well as Skandia and 7IM are the most common combinations revealed. The smaller brand platforms are most likely to be used by advisers as their sole platform choice while the opposite is true for the life company brand wraps.  Standard Life and Elevate advisers are more likely to play the field, citing fears over independence and lack of contact with senior directors and strategy. A further finding is that advisers using just one platform are significantly happier about the service and functionality than advisers using, two, three and more.  Customer service was rated very good, or good, by 82% of advisers using just one platform and only 39% with advisers using three or more platforms.  The Platforum managing director Holly...

Nucleus expands communications team

Nucleus, the IFA-owned and controlled wrap platform, has bolstered its communications team with the appointment of Terry Huddart and Jenna Bennie as technical communications manager and  people & development manager respectively. Reporting to communications director Rebecca Christensen, the pair join the team responsible for all internal and external communication at Nucleus. Huddart joins Nucleus from Aegon UK where he worked as a senior proposition management consultant. As part of his new role, he will be responsible for the production of a range of material to support the sales team.     Bennie joins Nucleus from Scottish Water Solutions where she was regional HR manager. In recognition that its people are the DNA of the business, Bennie will be responsible for ensuring staff engagement at Nucleus remains high as the business continues to develop and grow. Commenting Christensen said: “This is a very exciting time for Nucleus as we continue to build on the enormous success of the last four years with new, market-changing initiatives. Both Jenna and Terry bring a wealth of experience and knowledge and will be instrumental in ensuring we execute these initiatives across our ever-growing community of IFAs and their new colleagues at...

Six of the best for Nucleus as IFA interest soars

A surge in adviser interest has seen Nucleus Financial Group sign six new IFA firms to its adviser-owned wrap platform so far this year. The six new firms have all taken equity stakes in the business. Founded just over four years ago by a management team led by CEO David Ferguson and a group of like-minded IFA firms, the wrap has grown rapidly to become an established player in the space with over £2.3bn of assets on the platform. Barry Neilson, business development director, Nucleus Financial Group, says: “2011 has got off to a tremendous start for the business. As every month brings the introduction of RDR closer, we are seeing a significant acceleration of firms undertaking wrap platform due diligence and looking to partner with a wrap proposition which reduces their reliance on traditional providers, giving them more control over the delivery of their chosen client proposition. With the levels of interest we are getting from other high-end IFA firms at record levels I am confident that the number of Nucleus member-firms will be over 100 before too long.” Tina Weeks, Financial Life Planner, Serenity, commented: “We have been hugely impressed with the Nucleus people and proposition since signing up in January. David and his team concentrate on the things that really matter to those that use the platform and by employing the latest technology and systems not only make life easier but also enable advisers to save both time and money. “As a platform Nucleus brings something very special and unique to the market due a combination of the control and input of the adviser community that own...

Nucleus hires new Regional Business Development Director

Nucleus, the IFA-owned and controlled wrap platform, has appointed Russell Dowd to the newly-created position of Regional Business Development Director. Russell joins from Standard Life where he spent a number of successful years within their sales team, most recently working in the role of National Account Manager. Reporting directly to Barry Neilson, Business Development Director at Nucleus, Russell will be responsible for increasing the platform’s presence in the North of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. His appointment follows that of Mike Wallis who joined the business in September last year as Regional Business Development Director with responsibility for the South of England. Commenting, Neilson says: “Russell brings with him a wealth of industry experience, great understanding of the platform space and tremendous knowledge of the IFA sector. This will be invaluable as we respond to the increasing interest we are seeing from IFA firms wishing to adopt a platform which enhances their level of RDR...

Platform transparency to take centre stage in 2011

2011 will be the year that transparency takes centre stage in the platform market according to Nucleus founder and CEO David Ferguson. Ferguson, who set up Nucleus with a group of like minded IFA firms just over four years ago, believes that while 2010 was a monumental year in terms of boundary setting for the long-term future of the platform industry, 2011 will be the year when advisers and their clients hold providers to account regarding costs and control. With Ferguson at the helm, Nucleus has long set the standard for transparency in the platform market, actively campaigning for others to follow suit. The business, which is owned and controlled by the IFA firms that use it, is currently working with member-firms to create a ‘transparency charter’. The charter, to be produced by the platform’s IFA Advisory Board, headed by Central Investment managing director John Moore, is designed to help advisers make greater sense of the various propositions on the market and which is most suitable for their business. “For too long platform providers have kept the nature of their commercial relationships under wraps,” says Ferguson. “While many advisers were happy to accept this situation in the past those days are well and truly numbered.  Modern, forward-looking, and truly independent advisers appreciate how difficult it is for them to claim to be acting for the client (who is paying for the service) when the infrastructure being used to execute the advice is ridden with bias. The transparency we have always campaigned for is about bringing those biases out in the open to create a level playing field so that...

IFAs put forward proposal for one page platform disclosure document

The IFA firms that own and control the Nucleus wrap have devised a proposal for a one page disclosure document they believe should set the standard for the platform industry. The proposal is part of a wider-reaching White Paper – Fit for Purpose Platforms…in Black and White – prepared by the Nucleus IFA Advisory Board with the intention of informing the debate around some of the more contentious issues regarding the development of the platform market and in particular those issues covered in FSA papers DP10/2 and CP10/29. The Board, chaired by John Moore, director of Aberdeen-based Central Investments, believes the proposed disclosure document it has set out strikes an appropriate balance between providing relevant information and ensuring data accessibility.  What is more it fits onto one page. Entitled ‘Key facts: what you absolutely need to know’, the proposed one pager has been designed to make it absolutely clear to consumers what they can and cannot do and also includes an explanation and summary of the charges the client would be expected to pay. Commenting John Moore said: “The Nucleus IFA Advisory Board believes that the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) presents a remarkable opportunity for the retail financial services sector to embark on a new relationship with the UK population. “Partly due to the disclosure of advice charges demanded by the FSA and partly due to the requirement for more tailored financial solutions, it appears widely accepted that platforms will provide much of the infrastructure to support the execution of the RDR. “We believe that by combining transparency with the significant advances in technology that we have witnessed over the...

Nucleus adds two more firms

Nucleus Financial, the IFA-owned and controlled wrap platform, has signed up two more IFA firms. Luton-based Wealth Matters is a fee-based practice of boutique financial strategists. Currently with five advisers, the business is looking to expand its operations over the next five years via a combination of organic growth and acquisition of other client banks. Pennine Financial Planning, which is based in Sheffield, is a fee-only investment adviser. It takes a holistic view to the planning process to achieve a balanced and integrated plan. Barry Neilson, business development director at Nucleus, says: “We continue to see an overwhelming level of interest from IFAs across the country and this is evidenced by our two new member firms. We now have over 80 firms, which is something the team should be very proud of.” Julian Gilbert, director, Wealth Matters, says: “We consider ourselves a very progressive firm and have already had many dealings in the platform industry so it was important for us to find a platform that stood out among the others. Nucleus has similar values to us and we are very excited to be joining their IFA...

Standard Life Global Absolute Return Strategies tops Nucleus growth table

The Standard Life Global Absolute Returns Strategies Fund was the fastest growing fund on IFA-owned and controlled wrap platform Nucleus in October. The actively-managed Fund aims to provide positive returns in all market conditions over the medium to long term and can take long and short position in markets, securities and groups of securities through derivative contracts. The team looks to exploit market inefficiencies through active allocation to highly diversified market positions. According to the latest figures from Nucleus, the Standard Life Global Absolute Returns Strategies Fund, which is ranked 24th largest by value of holdings on the platform, was joined on the list by the Legal & General Index Linked Gilt Index Trust and the Dimensional Global Short Bond, which were ranked second and third respectively. The Standard Life fund was previously ranked sixth last month, while the Dimensional Bond rose from ninth. The L&G Trust retained its second place position. The top three funds by value remain unchanged with the Dimensional Global Short Bond, L&G Index Linked Gilt Index Trust and M&G Strategic Corporate Bond leading the way. Further down the list, the Invesco Perpetual Global Bond makes it into the top 10, appearing tenth up from 12th in September. Commenting, Kenny McKenzie, Managing Director, Intelligent Capital and Chairman of the Nucleus investment strategy team, said: “Despite stock markets moving upwards, investors are continuing to play the cautious card by opting for a fund that is designed to perform in all market...

Nucleus takes IFA-firm total to 80 as inflows since launch rise past £2bn

Nucleus Financial has signed up another two IFA firms to its adviser-owned wrap platform, taking to 80 the number of firms holding a stake in the business.   The IFAs – AWA Wealth Management and Proposito – are the most recent firms to join Nucleus since seven founding IFAs went live with the business in December 2006.   The joining firms bring the number of individual advisers using the platform to over 950 and takes the inflows since launch on the platform to over £2bn.   Like all joining advisory firms, both were subject to a rigorous due diligence process and have been approved by the Nucleus acceptance committee. Crucially, and as for all members of the Nucleus IFA community, both firms have also taken an equity stake in Nucleus. Barry Neilson, business development director at Nucleus, says: “To have 80 IFA firms of such high quality signed up and using the platform is another significant achievement for the business and something the whole team are extremely proud of. The level of interest we continue to receive from high-end IFA firms from across the UK continues to be overwhelming and clearly demonstrates a desire from that part of the market for a truly independent proposition that puts IFAs in control.”   Commenting on joining Nucleus, Rob Paulding, director at Sunningdale-based AWA Wealth Management said: “As a business that prides itself on independence and quality of service it was important for us to find a proposition that had similar values. As an IFA-designed and owned proposition it ticked all of the boxes in terms of ease of use and functionality...

Estate Capital Signs up to Nucleus

Estate Capital Financial Management, the Swansea-based firm of chartered financial advisers, has announced it is to join IFA-owned and controlled wrap proposition Nucleus. Founded in 2004, the business specialises in providing complete financial solutions to both corporations and individuals. Led by managing director Chris Davies, the seven-strong team prides itself on the true independence of advice and quality of service they offer clients and use this to provide a refreshing and imaginative approach to wealth management. As with other Nucleus member-firms, Estate Capital Financial Management has taken an equity stake in the platform. Chris Davies, managing director of Estate Capital, commented: “As a company that prides itself on its independence and quality of service, we felt that the Nucleus proposition and thinking was most closely aligned with our own philosophy. In addition the ownership structure ensured we would continue to have our say in the future direction of the platform, something that was important to...

Prism Cautious Growth takes top spot on Nucleus growth table

The Prism Cautious Growth Fund was the fastest growing fund on IFA-owned and controlled wrap platform Nucleus in September. The Prism Cautious Growth fund is a multi-manager fund that seeks to achieve its investment exposure by investing in collective investment schemes, such as unit trusts, OEICs and closed ended schemes as well as also investing in individual stocks and bonds. The fund is managed by Octopus Investments (Octopus), one of the UK’s fastest growing investment management companies. According to the latest figures from Nucleus, the Prism Cautious Growth Fund, which is ranked fourth largest by value of holdings on the platform, was joined on the list by the Legal & General Index Linked Gilt Index Trust, which previously held the top spot, and the Fidelity Strategic Bond in second and third place respectively. The Prism fund was new to the top 10 in September, as were the Fidelity Strategic Bond and the Schroders Gilt & Fixed fund, which was ranked fourth. The top three funds by value remain unchanged with the Dimensional Global Short Bond, L&G Index Linked Gilt Index Trust and M&G Strategic Corporate Bond leading the way. Further down the list, the Blackrock UK Dynamic makes it into the top 10, appearing ninth up from fourteenth in August. Commenting, Kenny McKenzie, Managing Director, Intelligent Capital and Chairman of the Nucleus investment strategy team, said: “Cautious continues to be the watch word for clients at the moment and this is reflected in the rise of the Prism fund to the top spot. However, this is a departure from pure Fixed Interest exposure, which begs the question as to...

Nucleus hosts first investment academy

Nucleus, the IFA-owned and controlled wrap platform, is hosting its first investment academy aiming to improve delegates’ knowledge on technical investment areas such as structured products and hedge funds. Arranged by the Nucleus investment strategy team, the first academy takes place on Thursday 16 September and will include four workshops helping delegates better understand commodities, structured products, hedge funds and fund research. Delegates will also hear a speech from guest speaker Justin Urquhart Stewart, from Seven Investment Management, and a welcome address from Kenny McKenzie, managing director, Intelligent Capital and chairman of the Nucleus investment strategy team. Commenting, McKenzie says: “There are a number of issues for IFAs to consider at present: RDR requires that IFA firms have a robust investment process; trail based valuations need the business to demonstrate a strong service proposition to support trail earnings; and the increasing choice of assets means the information inflow can be overwhelming. Regardless of the investment solution adopted by an IFA firm, it remains important to have an understanding of the options available in the marketplace. By offering an educational day for Nucleus IFA firms, we will be assisting IFAs with these...

MRM Question of the Week

Today’s question: What has been your industry and personal highlight of the year so far, and what do you expect to see for the rest of the year? Bruce Wilson, managing director, Helm Godfrey My highlight of 2010 so far is the fact that there finally has been acknowledgement that there is life after retirement and that many people simply cannot finish working at 65. Working as many years as possible – while a financial necessity for some – is a lifestyle choice for others and I am very happy that the new coalition government has recognised this. Looking towards the second half of the year, I think the coalition will face its biggest challenges. The crisis highlighted the fact that changes need to be made, but I wonder if the government will be able to carry the people with them through all the tough times ahead. Financial responsibility is being put back onto the individual and I think the Government, and indeed all of us, are in for a rocky road. Ryan Hughes, senior fund manager, Skandia Investment Group Industry highlights of the year include having a change of government, albeit, not the clear majority that would have been desired to properly get the debt mountain under control, and China finally announcing it was going to let its currency revalue a little. Personal highlights for me would be seeing the Skandia Global Dynamic Equity Fund, our first fund fully using tactical asset allocation, reach its first birthday with exceptional outperformance; being significantly underweight Europe during the PIIGS crisis; and going overweight Japan for the first time in the careers of...

Nucleus bolsters operations team with double hire

Nucleus, the IFA-owned and controlled wrap platform, has bolstered its operations team with two senior hires.   The appointments, which are part of an ongoing recruitment drive that has seen the team grow from 28 to 41 in the past six months, are designed to add further expertise and resource to the operations team as the business enters a period of accelerated growth and development.   Jeff Spence is joining as wrap operations director and will be responsible for managing operational areas within the wrap, including overseeing the relationship with third party administrator Scottish Friendly and other key suppliers. Reporting to chief operations officer Andrew Smith, Jeff will manage the daily operational function of the wrap. Jeff is joining Nucleus from Standard Life where he held the role of senior manager platform investments.   Richard Evans has been appointed technical operations manager. Also reporting to Andrew he will be responsible for management of the wrap system performance and for managing internal IT systems. Prior to joining Nucleus, Richard worked at LeadX, an online digital exchange, where he was the IT Manager. Commenting on the appointments David Ferguson, founder and CEO of Nucleus, said: “These appointments are further confirmation of our desire to recruit the brightest talent in the retail financial services industry and are all significant additions as we seek to execute our growth strategy. We have big plans for the business and strategically couldn’t be better placed to maximise the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities offered by the introduction of the...

Nucleus names communications manager

Nucleus, the IFA-owned and controlled wrap platform, has appointed Mike Johnston to the position of communications manager. Mike joins Nucleus from Bailie Gifford where he worked as a marketing consultant. Reporting directly to communications director Rebecca Christensen, Mike will be tasked with ensuring that the team has an active and enthusiastic community around each of its audiences. He will also be directly involved in developing the business’s social media strategy, and have a strong focus on communications to the participating IFA firms Commenting on the appointment Rebecca said: “Mike joins Nucleus at a very exciting time with lots of new developments and initiatives taking place in and around the business. As part of my team he will play an instrumental role in ensuring those initiatives are communicated effectively to the rapidly growing number of advisers using the...

Nucleus first platform to sign up to Options initiative

Nucleus, the IFA-owned and controlled wrap proposition, has become the first wrap platform to join Options, the insurance industry’s initiative to transform the speed of annuity and pension transfers. Options – the Open Market Pension Transfer Service – was launched in October 2008 to provide an online system that enables information to be transferred between providers electronically rather than via post, to cut transfer times. The initiative will allow Nucleus IFA members to speed up pension and annuity transfer times for their clients. Since launch the average time taken to transfer funds and information between providers has fallen to 11 calendar days from a previous industry average of 31 days for Open Market Option transfers, and to 10 days from an industry average of 36 days for pension transfers (source: ABI*). Commenting on the initiative, Business Development Director at Nucleus, Barry Neilson said: “The pension transfer process has traditionally been a prolonged affair leaving clients waiting for weeks, even months, for their retirement income once a new pensions or annuity provider has been sourced. This initiative will enable IFA user-members to secure the maximum retirement income possible for clients with the minimum transfer time – a huge benefit for all concerned. “Nucleus has led the debate around the free movement of assets between platforms and this new initiative is consistent with that.  As a business we are committed to providing advisers and their clients with the best and most efficient service available and signing up to the Options initiative is part of this commitment.” *source...

Nucleus sets out key issues to impact IFAs post-Budget

Following the Emergency Budget on 22 June Nucleus, the IFA-owned and controlled wrap platform, has produced a ‘Budget Snapshot’ for member IFAs looking at the key issues it believes will most impact them and their clients.   Key areas covered in the document, now being made more widely available, include the following:   ·        Isa limits ·        CGT increase ·        End to compulsory annuitisation ·        Pension allowance / restriction of pension tax relief ·        Personal tax changes ·        Corporation Tax / National Insurance changes ·        Auto-enrolment ·        VAT increase Barry Neilson, Business Development Director at Nucleus commented: “For high quality IFAs Budgets tend to be good for business as clients look to them for insight into what exactly has been announced and guidance around how it effects them and their finances. The Emergency Budget on 22 June was no exception and because of the range and nature of what was announced will in many respects will prove to be one of the ‘better’ ones. “The document we have produced is designed to help IFAs, aiding them in their understanding of the key announcements and the implications they will have on their clients.” To download the full document please visit...

Financial confidence among clients on the up, say advisers

Client’s levels of financial confidence will have increased by this time next year, according to a targeted adviser poll conducted by IFA-owned and controlled platform Nucleus. The findings, which are based on the views of 20 IFA firms which collectively have around £400m under advice, reveal that 70% of those questioned believe that levels of financial confidence among their client base will be at an increased level this time next year, while just 10% believe that confidence levels will have dropped. In contrast to the above, the majority of those surveyed displayed a marked lack of confidence in the new government, with 60% of firms unsure of the coalition’s ability to have a positive impact on financial services in the UK. The results, which represent the views of over one hundred individual advisers, indicate that IFAs do not believe client’s financial confidence will necessarily stem from the new government’s actions in the coming year. Commenting on the results, John Moore, Chairman of the Nucleus IFA advisory board and Managing Director of IFA firm Central Investment Services Aberdeen said: “At the end of the day, when someone needs financial guidance they will turn to a trusted independent adviser, someone who knows them and what’s right for their needs.  “Feeling more confident about your finances doesn’t necessarily stem from what the government does / doesn’t do, but from an empowered approach to your financial planning. The adviser / client relationship is becoming more and more important in this sense as a source of real engagement with an individual’s financial...