How eight D2C platforms ranked for pension freedom flexibility

Research from asset management research and consultancy firm The Lang Cat shows exactly which platforms can do what for customers when it comes to taking income under the pension freedoms

The pension freedoms of 2015 completely changed the way retirement providers interacted with customers, particularly unadvised ones. 

Research by asset management and research consultancy The Lang Cat reveals just how eight platforms have responded to the new flexibilities, and what infrastructure they have to help customers when they want to withdraw money.

Platforms have shown their specific software capabilities, along with their process for allowing customers to take income and set up guaranteed income products. 

All data comes from The Lang Cat's February 2019 White Paper Retirement Income: The Direct Platform Market, which was commissioned by tech provider GBST. You can download the report here, or read more further on. 

The pension freedoms of 2015 completely changed the way retirement providers interacted with customers, particularly unadvised ones. 

Research by asset management and research consultancy The Lang Cat reveals just how eight platforms have responded to the new flexibilities, and what infrastructure they have to help customers when they want to withdraw money.

Platforms have shown their specific software capabilities, along with their process for allowing customers to take income and set up guaranteed income products. 

All data comes from The Lang Cat's February 2019 White Paper Retirement Income: The Direct Platform Market, which was commissioned by tech provider GBST. You can download the report here, or read more further on. 

Question: Does your income planning software allow customers to establish sustainable income levels?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: No
  • Charles Stanley Direct: No
  • evestor: Yes
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: No
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Yes
  • Interactive Investor: Yes
  • Nutmeg: No
  • PensionBee: No

Question: Does your income planning software help customers identify the most tax-efficient withdrawal strategies, taking other pension options and wrappers into account?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: No
  • Charles Stanley Direct: No
  • evestor: Yes
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: No
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: No
  • Interactive Investor: No
  • Nutmeg: No
  • PensionBee: Yes - videos

Question: Does your income software planning tool help the customer understand the impact of changing their income? For example, if increasing income is likely to impact regular income sustainability. 

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: Yes - illustration
  • Charles Stanley Direct: No
  • evestor: Yes
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: No
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Yes
  • Interactive Investor: Yes
  • Nutmeg: No
  • PensionBee: No

Question: Does the customer need to submit a paper application to take income?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: No
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Yes
  • evestor: Depends on the solution. If it includes an annuity then yes.
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: Yes
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: No
  • Interactive Investor: Yes
  • Nutmeg: Not disclosed to the Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: No

Question: Is a wet customer signature required to take income? 

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: No
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Yes
  • evestor: Depends on the solution. If it includes an annuity then yes.
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: Yes
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Only if a paper application is submitted (rather than online or phone)
  • Interactive Investor: Yes
  • Nutmeg: Not disclosed to the Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: No

Question: If the income taking process is online, is it 'straight through' or does it go into a queue for a human to do something? 

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: STP
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Not applicable
  • evestor: There will be human interaction for the first phase
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: Not applicable
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Yes - process payment and update record 
  • Interactive Investor: Not applicable
  • Nutmeg: Not disclosed to The Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: Some human involvement

Question: Are benefit values based on net asset value (NAV) at the request date or the settlement date?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: Request date 
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Request date
  • evestor: Request date
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: Settlement date
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Settlement date
  • Interactive Investor: NAV or quoted price at benefit confirmation date
  • Nutmeg: Not disclosed to the Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: Request date

Question: Does the platform show what income is being paid if it's from more than one wrapper?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: No
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Yes
  • evestor: Yes
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: No
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Yes
  • Interactive Investor: No
  • Nutmeg: Not disclosed to The Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: Not applicable

Question: Does it show a 'total' income that is easy for the customer to work out? 

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: Not applicable
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Yes
  • evestor: Yes
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: Not applicable
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Yes
  • Interactive Investor: Not applicable
  • Nutmeg: Not disclosed to the Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: Yes

Question: Is flexi-access drawdown supported? 

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: Yes
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Yes
  • evestor: Yes
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: Yes
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Yes
  • Interactive Investor: Yes
  • Nutmeg: Yes (Nutmeg does not currently accept transfers where the pension is already in drawdown)
  • PensionBee: Yes

Question: Do you offer guaranteed income products (annuities)?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: No
  • Charles Stanley Direct: No
  • evestor: Yes
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: No
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Yes
  • Interactive Investor: II facilitates the transfer of funds for the purchase of whole-of-life annuities 
  • Nutmeg: No
  • PensionBee: No

Question: Can guaranteed income be combined with drawdown?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: No
  • Charles Stanley Direct: No
  • evestor: Yes
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: No
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: No
  • Interactive Investor: Not applicable. This is a defined contribution scheme. 
  • Nutmeg: No
  • PensionBee: No

Question: If guaranteed and non-guaranteed income can be combined, how is this packaged to clients? (i.e. a new product or a repackaging of annuity and drawdown components).

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: Not applicable
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Not applicable
  • evestor: Repackaging
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: Not applicable
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Not applicable
  • Interactive Investor: Not applicable
  • Nutmeg: Not applicable
  • PensionBee: Not applicable

Question: Are uncrystallised funds pension lump sums (UFPLS) supported?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: Yes
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Yes
  • evestor: No
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: Yes
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Yes
  • Interactive Investor: Yes
  • Nutmeg: No
  • PensionBee: Yes

Question: What frequency of lump sum withdrawals is permitted? 

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: Ad-hoc
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Four times per month
  • evestor: Monthly
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: Daily
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Monthly
  • Interactive Investor: Daily
  • Nutmeg: Not disclosed to The Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: Weekly

Question: If the lump sum is likely to impact regular income sustainability, is this flagged to the customer?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: No
  • Charles Stanley Direct: No
  • evestor: Yes
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: No
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: No
  • Interactive Investor: No
  • Nutmeg: Not disclosed to The Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: Not applicable

Answers: When a customer is taking a regular income, what frequency of regular withdrawals is permitted?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: Monthly
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Start of each month
  • evestor: Monthly
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: Monthly/quarterly/semi-annually/annually at client's discretion
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Monthly
  • Interactive Investor: Monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, annually
  • Nutmeg: Not disclosed to The Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: 'As per regular.'

Question: Are there specific days on which a customer can take a regular income? 

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: Only certain days
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Start of each month
  • evestor: Only certain days
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: 10th and 25th only 
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Certain days
  • Interactive Investor: Two specified dates per month
  • Nutmeg: Not disclosed to The Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: Not applicable

Question: Are there auto-alerts if there is not enough cash to pay income to a customer?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: No
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Yes
  • evestor: Yes
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: No
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Yes
  • Interactive Investor: Yes for UFPLS, no for regular income
  • Nutmeg: Not declared to The Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: Not applicable

Question: Can the order of assets for regular sell down be selected?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: Not applicable
  • Charles Stanley Direct: No
  • evestor: No
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: No
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Not applicable
  • Interactive Investor: Under customer control as is an execution only dealing platform
  • Nutmeg: Not declared to The Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: No

Question: Can specific assets be protected from being automatically sold? 

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: Not applicable
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Not applicable
  • evestor: No
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: No
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Not applicable
  • Interactive Investor: Under customer control as is an execution only dealing platform
  • Nutmeg: Not disclosed to The Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: No

Question: Can the customer check on all key aspects of withdrawals as often as they like using a mobile device?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: Yes
  • Charles Stanley Direct: No
  • evestor: Yes
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: No
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: No
  • Interactive Investor: Yes
  • Nutmeg: Not disclosed to The Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: Yes

Question: Do you send paper, electronic (or both) payslips to clients?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: Paper
  • Charles Stanley Direct: Yes 
  • evestor: Electronic
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: Both or electronic only at the client's discretion
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Both
  • Interactive Investor: Electronic
  • Nutmeg: Not declared to The Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: Electronic

Question: Are historical payslips held in an online document store?

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: No
  • Charles Stanley Direct: No
  • evestor: Yes
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: Yes
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: Nothing stored by can be regenerated through internal records
  • Interactive Investor: Yes
  • Nutmeg: Not declared to The Lang Cat
  • PensionBee: Yes

Question: If projected income availability is deviating from the plan, do you have software that proactively alerts the customer? 

  • AJ Bell YouInvest: No
  • Charles Stanley Direct: No
  • evestor: Yes
  • Fidelity Personal Investing: No
  • Hargreaves Lansdown: No
  • Interactive Investor: No
  • Nutmeg: No
  • PensionBee: No

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