IFAs are set for a month of platform disruption as Ascentric has confirmed the platform will be down for three days and there will be two weeks of no rebalancing because of its replatforming project.
In an email sent to advisers, the Royal London-owned platform said model portfolio access, including rebalances, switches and money allocation, will not be available from 6pm on 13 November until after 26 November.
Share and fund dealing will be down from 12pm on 20 November until after 26 November, meaning IFAs will not be able to buy or sell funds in the period.
The platform is currently moving clients in stages to a Bravura-run platform from one which runs on proprietary technology. Some clients were moved in April and one IFA subsequently complained of problems paying income to clients because of the migration.
Further details of the downtime caused by the move to the new platform have now been revealed. As well as no dealing or model portfolio access the platform has said the following will not be available from 6pm on 16 November till after 26 November:
- No Sipp payment requests: including applications to ‘tax-free cash, new drawdown requests and any other withdrawals and or cash movement where assets would have to be sold to raise the cash required;'
- No new business applications: ‘Applications received after this date will be set up on the new platform and you will not be able to access the account until you’re using the new platform;'
- New wrapper set-ups by cheque: ‘Cheques received after this date will be returned. We recommend sending electronic payment so that we can set up the product on the platform;'
- Crest certificates: ‘Any Crest certificates received after this date will be returned to you.’
In addition the message to advisers said: ‘Both the old and new platforms will be unavailable and the phone lines will be closed from Friday 23 November to Monday 26 November inclusive.’
Martin Bamford (pictured above), managing director of IFA Informed Choice, said he was unhappy Ascentric is moving clients to the new platform in a big migration, instead of a slower move.
‘Rather than take a more considered, gradual approach to re-platforming, shutting the door on clients for such a lengthy period can only be designed to serve Ascentric rather than their customers,’ he said.
Bamford added that due to geo-political events in November, such as the US mid-term elections and the crunch of Brexit talks, November will likely to be a very volatile month for markets, making it a bad time to shut down the platform.
‘We can only keep our fingers crossed that the re-platforming process will run smoothly and investors will not be further delayed in being able to instruct trades. If we run into another bout of market volatility during these “business calming dates” and find ourselves unable to implement buy or sell orders from clients, we will be pursuing financial compensation from Ascentric as appropriate.’
A spokeswoman for Ascentric said: ‘As a custodian of assets our primary duty is to migrate client details and assets safely. For this reason, we decided to restrict rebalancing on the platform in the run up to migration. We did so after carefully considering the interests of our clients, users and the overall impact of the migration.
‘We have learnt valuable lessons from others who have migrated before us and we believe our approach is in the best interests of our end clients. We also consulted with large discretionary fund managers and regular users of the platform and they all agreed this was a sensible approach given the experiences they have had with other platforms which have recently migrated.’