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  • FIRST POST
    • fronty
    • By fronty 28th Mar 19, 7:38 PM
    • 16Posts
    • 2Thanks
    fronty
    Excessive or reasonable charges for managed SIPP?
    • #1
    • 28th Mar 19, 7:38 PM
    Excessive or reasonable charges for managed SIPP? 28th Mar 19 at 7:38 PM
    Hello,

    In January 2016 I transferred my pension into a SIPP with Standard Life. I previously had a SIPP with Scottish Equitable and was managing it myself, but with a busy work life and the birth of my two kids I just found it impossible to do all the research and keep on top of it all, so I basically stopped managing it and it festered for a few years.

    So I spoke to my IFA, they did a risk assessment and took the SIPP under management and added it to their "medium" portfolio. My IFA is PFM Associates, and on the whole I've been quite happy with them, they regularly review my SIPP and switch holdings according to the directives of their "investment committee". It's basically invested in around 15 funds with wide diversity.

    Over the past 3 years my investment has grown by £63K, and is currently valued at £350K, however I have noticed some quite high fees being deducted and I am unsure if they are reasonable or not.

    The charges are split between SIPP platform fees of approx. £100/month and "on-going advisor fees" of approx. £300/month. In total I see fees of approx. £450 being deducted on a monthly basis.

    Over the past 3 and a bit years years the charges have amounted to approx. £16,700. Annually it's looking like around £5,700 is being taken in fees. So with a valuation of 350K this is working out around 1.6% PA. However I am only paying in £250/month gross at the moment, so it almost feels like my cash isn't being invested, it's just being taken in fees.

    Now I appreciate that I have to pay to get a managed portfolio, and advice, but my SIPP is managed with a load of others and they switch us all in and out of funds as they see fit, I am not getting a personalised "discretionary" service.... so I am now wondering if the fees are justified.

    I can't remember what they charge for this service but doing some quick maths it suggests it's 1% PA (350K portfolio, 3,600 PA in fees, you do the maths!), with the other 0.6% going to the SIPP provider. I'm not sure which bit of fees the fund management charges come out of.

    So it feels like the IFA is charging around 1% for their management of my SIPP - does this sound reasonable? The problem is as my portfolio grows they are obviously going to take a larger and larger cut, so I am wondering whether I should switch to someone else. But then of course there's the old adage, "you get what you pay for"... a cheaper IFA might not produce as much growth... but I don't really know whether my IFA has done well or not at the moment, or whether their fees are reasonable or not.

    Regardless I think I am in the wrong business!

    Comments...?

    Thanks,

    Fronty
Page 3
    • dunstonh
    • By dunstonh 9th Apr 19, 6:27 PM
    • 97,999 Posts
    • 66,160 Thanks
    dunstonh
    people who manage money should provide clients with information allowing them to evaluate performance.
    That information is available for those that want it. However, you are saying they should provide it. There is no requirement for advisory firms to provide that information. So, saying they should provide it is incorrect. It gives the op the impression that they have not been given something that is mandatory to give out.

    Given the performance of this individuals portfolio, I am not surprised they didn’t.
    Whats wrong with the performance?

    We dont have exact dates for 2016 as it was sometime in January. That month saw a large movement of nearly 6% for 80% equity. The OP would also have paid an initial charge in year 1. That would reduce the return.

    Also, the portfolio has a yield focus. We dont know the reason why they did that. However, it does tend to reduce the risk levels down a bit but also the growth. Yield portfolios tend to perform better/worse in different parts of the cycle.

    All investment decisions, whoever makes them, is based on opinion. I don't agree with some of the things in that portfolio and if you asked 100 people to build a portfolio of single sector funds you would get 100 different builds.

    Saying that I provided “misinformation” is of course false. Information I provided stated exactly what it was and what has to be done to get an accurate benchmark. I can see you have some kind of a problem. That’s ok.
    What do you call comparing 80% equity with 100% equity then?
    You did say what it was but the OP isnt to know that its not comparing like for like.
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from an Independent Financial Adviser local to you.
    • beamyup
    • By beamyup 9th Apr 19, 6:50 PM
    • 55 Posts
    • 14 Thanks
    beamyup
    This thread has discussed the relative performance a lot but not the charges, and the long term impact of those charges.

    For a £350k plus portfolio, Is 1% reasonable? is 1/2% reasonable?

    What should be provided for that fee? just a model "maybe" under-performing portfolio they call "medium"I guess meaning medium risk? what else?

    It would be good to know the service you should expect for having so much reduction in your pension (assuming investment of any fee saved).

    Also - effort vs value for money..
    How many hours PA should an IFA spend for a e.g. £3000 PA fee
    How many of those hours are of direct benefit to the client? vs how many hours jumping through regulatory hoops with perhaps little direct benefit.
    • Mordko
    • By Mordko 9th Apr 19, 7:37 PM
    • 191 Posts
    • 48 Thanks
    Mordko
    That information is available for those that want it. However, you are saying they should provide it. There is no requirement for advisory firms to provide that information. So, saying they should provide it is incorrect. It gives the op the impression that they have not been given something that is mandatory to give out.



    Whats wrong with the performance?

    We dont have exact dates for 2016 as it was sometime in January. That month saw a large movement of nearly 6% for 80% equity. The OP would also have paid an initial charge in year 1. That would reduce the return.

    Also, the portfolio has a yield focus. We dont know the reason why they did that. However, it does tend to reduce the risk levels down a bit but also the growth. Yield portfolios tend to perform better/worse in different parts of the cycle.

    All investment decisions, whoever makes them, is based on opinion. I don't agree with some of the things in that portfolio and if you asked 100 people to build a portfolio of single sector funds you would get 100 different builds.



    What do you call comparing 80% equity with 100% equity then?
    You did say what it was but the OP isnt to know that its not comparing like for like.
    Originally posted by dunstonh
    I donít know if the OP quoted money-weighted or time-weighted returns. To be meaningful for comparison purposes it has to be time-weighted. If so, it does not matter what was the exact sequence of his investments.

    I provided a world stockmarket ETF returns for the same period because I believed it to be helpful. Tells a story. Good years or bad - OPs portfolio is underperforming an all stock portfolio. I didnít know which fund provides 80/20 split, but that does not change a thing

    The 80% stock portfolio quoted above tells the exact same story. As expected, it underperforms the 100% stock portfolio during good years but outperforms during bad years. Remarkable that OPs portfolio showed large underperformance in both cases.
    • Mordko
    • By Mordko 9th Apr 19, 7:41 PM
    • 191 Posts
    • 48 Thanks
    Mordko
    You can obfuscate but the reality is that portfolios with charges like OPs underperform index funds long term, regardless of what is selected. And yeah, I do think that this particular portfolio is pretty bad.
    • Mordko
    • By Mordko 9th Apr 19, 7:58 PM
    • 191 Posts
    • 48 Thanks
    Mordko
    This thread has discussed the relative performance a lot but not the charges, and the long term impact of those charges.

    For a £350k plus portfolio, Is 1% reasonable? is 1/2% reasonable?

    What should be provided for that fee? just a model "maybe" under-performing portfolio they call "medium"I guess meaning medium risk? what else?

    It would be good to know the service you should expect for having so much reduction in your pension (assuming investment of any fee saved).

    Also - effort vs value for money..
    How many hours PA should an IFA spend for a e.g. £3000 PA fee
    How many of those hours are of direct benefit to the client? vs how many hours jumping through regulatory hoops with perhaps little direct benefit.
    Originally posted by beamyup
    1% = 3.5k every single year, whether portfolio goes up or down. 1% is a significant proportion of expected returns. 1% = over $100k as portfolio grows over the next 20 years (assuming its allowed). 1% is 10 times more in charges than could be achieved with very little effort by reading a few books.

    0.5% would be more tolerable if someone needs hand holding. Some do.
    Last edited by Mordko; 09-04-2019 at 9:14 PM.
    • fronty
    • By fronty 9th Apr 19, 8:01 PM
    • 16 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    fronty
    Evening gents, lots of lively discussion and debate going on, good to see! :-)

    There's been some great nuggets of advice in here. I looked into the Vanguard funds and also stumbled across Monevator, who talks about these LifeStrategy funds (sorry can't post the link).

    My IFA assessed me as having a medium attitude to risk. So not sure whether I'd be up for the 60% or 80% equity fund. I'm leaning to 80% at the moment. However even the 60% equity fund beats the 3 years of figures I've got for my pension. I checked the 80% fund on trustnet and it's 5 year performance within it's sector currently ranks it 8th out of 158 funds. Performance seems pretty solid for something you can set and forget and with only a 0.22% annual charge it's very tempting.

    I see that the charges on an II SIPP are incredibly low, only £10/month and £1 per trade if investing monthly.

    To be honest it all sounds like a bit of a no-brainer. I've emailed my IFA and asked if there are any exit fees if I transfer out. I feel pretty annoyed that I've been paying them approx. £3,600/pa to get worse performance than something that is so cheap and simple, I just can't justify staying with them. I still have a good 10-15 years investment horizon before I retire, and the thought of all that money not being invested fills me with horror.

    I'm glad I checked all this out now rather than just leaving it. I still need to do a bit more research, I'm not sure if I should dump the whole £360K into that one fund or find a few others to complement it. I like technology stocks (I work in IT) so might stick a few % in a technology focused fund, although the 80% Vanguard fund already has 9.9% in IT, so guess it's not really necessary to do anything separate. It just feels odd having the whole lot in a single fund, something I have never done in the past. Guess it's just about changing my mindset.

    I'll go back over the replies and see if there's anything I've missed.

    Cheers.
    • dunstonh
    • By dunstonh 9th Apr 19, 8:38 PM
    • 97,999 Posts
    • 66,160 Thanks
    dunstonh
    My IFA assessed me as having a medium attitude to risk. So not sure whether I'd be up for the 60% or 80% equity fund. I'm leaning to 80% at the moment. However even the 60% equity fund beats the 3 years of figures I've got for my pension
    If you look at the average UK consumer, then 40% equity is more typical.

    Looking at past performance of the VLS funds is not helpful as they started after the credit crunch. Look at similar funds that invested through the credit crunch and you get a much better idea of the loss potential.
    I checked the 80% fund on trustnet and it's 5 year performance within it's sector currently ranks it 8th out of 158 funds. Performance seems pretty solid for something you can set and forget and with only a 0.22% annual charge it's very tempting.
    A growth period and the sector is it in is the 40-85% share sector. So, by default, the funds with the most equity content will be at the top end in a growth period. VLS60, for example, is in the same sector but not comparable You should totally ignore sector positions when loiking at the mixed equity sectors. A few years back, a ratings agency looked at the 40-85% sector using a 1-10 risk scale and fund that sector contained funds ranging from risk 3 to 8.

    A consistently below sector average returning fund could actually be a better solution than a top performing fund.
    Performance seems pretty solid for something you can set and forget and with only a 0.22% annual charge it's very tempting.
    Are you happy to accept your fund value dropping around 35-40% periodically? That is your £350k dropping by £140,000 to £210,000?
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from an Independent Financial Adviser local to you.
    • cfw1994
    • By cfw1994 9th Apr 19, 10:41 PM
    • 270 Posts
    • 183 Thanks
    cfw1994
    (snip)
    here's an extract from their (quite lengthy) reply:

    Quote:
    The charges are as follows;
    - PFM Associates Wealth Management Service Ė 1% per annum based on the fund value and is paid monthly
    - Standard Life Platform Charge Ė Based on the current value this is 0.35% per annum paid monthly

    (snip)
    Originally posted by fronty
    I think I see the problem here!

    ďWealth Management ServiceĒ
    I would run a mile from any company offering me that nowadays. I remain firmly of the belief it is not my wealth they are interested in managing

    I only half say that in jest....
    It sounds like you are checking into moving it out. The numbers, to my inexperienced eye, look like they are taking the proverbial!

    If you look at the average UK consumer, then 40% equity is more typical.
    (snip)
    A consistently below sector average returning fund could actually be a better solution than a top performing fund.

    Are you happy to accept your fund value dropping around 35-40% periodically? That is your £350k dropping by £140,000 to £210,000?
    Originally posted by dunstonh
    Iím genuinely curious:
    Only 40% equity?
    Iím clearly more risky than most, although my spread is perhaps more global than some (perhaps more US biased, but then much tech growth etc has been from there). It does feel like IFAs ought to be able to help produce decent returns for their customers.

    Given the choice, Iíd personally chose a fund that is consistently in the top 1st or 2nd quartile to one languishing in 4th or 3rd. Why would the latter be better?

    Finally: when did funds last drop by 35-40%? and how long did they take to recover?
    • fronty
    • By fronty 9th Apr 19, 10:45 PM
    • 16 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    fronty
    Are you happy to accept your fund value dropping around 35-40% periodically? That is your £350k dropping by £140,000 to £210,000?
    Originally posted by dunstonh
    Well that is the $64m question isn't it? I wouldn't be "happy" about it, but given my investment horizon I could use a dip like that as a buying opportunity.

    I'd look to move into "safer" asset classes as I get closer to retirement, if I went for a VLS fund it looks like a simple matter to switch into lower equity % funds.

    This all strikes me as being quite familiar, my first pension was (mis)sold to me by Barclays, during the pension review they determined I should have joined a company scheme, so I was awarded some compensation, but regardless, I remember back then the fund was called "Barclays Balanced Managed" or something. These mixed asset funds sound very similar to the old balanced managed funds, but with much lower charges. Almost feels like I'm going backwards... :-)
    • fronty
    • By fronty 9th Apr 19, 11:01 PM
    • 16 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    fronty
    Finally: when did funds last drop by 35-40%? and how long did they take to recover?
    Originally posted by cfw1994
    I did actually see those kinds of drops in some of the graphs around 2008-2009 timeframe, but my pension back then only suffered around 11% drop and had recouped those losses and was positive in early 2010 (this was back when I was managing my SIPP myself). The graphs seem to indicate a lot of funds recovered all their losses within 2 years, and if you had been drip feeding at the time (I was) you will have picked up some bargains (I had a massive growth spurt in 2010 and 2011 - my pension gained nearly 100K in just those two years alone!).

    There's been a few dips since, but nothing like as bad as 2008/2009, and they have generally recovered quite quickly, e.g Q4 2018 was pretty bad but if you looked at the figures now a lot has recovered (including my portfolio).

    I just don't have the time to do all the research any more - already I have spent several evenings this week stuck on my laptop which is impacting on family time. So I'm hoping to set something up and just forget about it for a while.
    • Mordko
    • By Mordko 10th Apr 19, 12:47 AM
    • 191 Posts
    • 48 Thanks
    Mordko
    I am not sure 2008 is a particularly good indicator of a worst case scenario. 1930s or 1970s were much tougher. We can’t relive that experience but reading books by people who did is helpful to get appreciation of what it feels like.

    Terms like “medium tolerance to risk” are not particularly meaningful. Most people tend to feel good about their tolerance during good times and iffy after a downturn. Anyway, the real risk isn’t a 40% drop when you are 30 (which can easily happen with a balanced portfolio). Like Fronty said, that’s a good thing. The real risk is not having enough money when you are old. For a 30-year old bonds are riskier than shares - they can easily be devastated by unexpected inflation while the upside is next to nothing. Shares are really good at handling inflation. The equation changes when one approaches retirement.

    I found a series of books by Bernstein, such as “Deep Risk” and books about 1930s really helpful to understanding risk. Questions such as “how would you feel about an X percent loss” are really quite unhelpful. Nobody on earth feels good about losing money, but that’s not a good reason to avoid stocks.
    • Mordko
    • By Mordko 10th Apr 19, 12:56 AM
    • 191 Posts
    • 48 Thanks
    Mordko
    “I just don't have the time to do all the research any more - already I have spent several evenings this week stuck on my laptop which is impacting on family time. So I'm hoping to set something up and just forget about it for a while.”

    You owe it to yourself, your wife and your kids to dedicate a little time to this. Won’t take long. You can do it in 4 simple steps

    1. read this. Shouldn’t take long. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/171127.The_Little_Book_of_Common_Sense_Investing

    2. Then read this. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/208722.The_Intelligent_Asset_Allocator

    3. Select your asset allocation, rebalancing strategy and investment vehicles. Write it all down in your investment policy.

    4. Execute.
    • Mordko
    • By Mordko 10th Apr 19, 1:11 AM
    • 191 Posts
    • 48 Thanks
    Mordko
    Looking at past performance of the VLS funds is not helpful as they started after the credit crunch. Look at similar funds that invested through the credit crunch and you get a much better idea of the loss potential.
    Originally posted by dunstonh
    No. One can and should look at the performance of indices which VLS funds represent. It goes way back. And beats the vast majority of active funds over any decent period of time.
    • Mordko
    • By Mordko 10th Apr 19, 1:24 AM
    • 191 Posts
    • 48 Thanks
    Mordko
    P.S. personally I prefer portfolios made up of 3-4 ETFs because your total fees, including platform costs, could be even lower and you would get a bit more control, but VLS are excellent funds.

    Any one of them would provide you with way more diversification then the nonsensical plethora of expensive underperforming funds you currently hold. Really wouldn’t worry about the VLS being just 1 fund. Given you have a young family... You can’t go wrong with them. By the same token I would stay way away from sector specific funds.

    Whatever you do, reading the likes of John Bogle, Jason Zweig or William Bernstein would help you make an informed decision and stick with your plan.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Mordko; 10-04-2019 at 1:27 AM.
    • fronty
    • By fronty 10th Apr 19, 8:32 AM
    • 16 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    fronty
    Thank you Mordko, I'll read those links and thank you and everyone else here for their help and comments, it's given me the confidence to "take back control".... now where have I heard that before?
    • dunstonh
    • By dunstonh 10th Apr 19, 9:07 AM
    • 97,999 Posts
    • 66,160 Thanks
    dunstonh
    I’m genuinely curious:
    Only 40% equity?
    I’m clearly more risky than most, although my spread is perhaps more global than some (perhaps more US biased, but then much tech growth etc has been from there). It does feel like IFAs ought to be able to help produce decent returns for their customers.
    Yes. The average consumer doesnt like negative periods and low/medium risk is typically where you find most of them. Forget the upside. No-one is unhappy when things go up. However, when things go down, that is when people get nervous and are more prone to making mistakes.

    And with the MIFID II requirement of quarterly statements, people are going to see the negative periods far more frequently.

    Given the choice, I’d personally chose a fund that is consistently in the top 1st or 2nd quartile to one languishing in 4th or 3rd. Why would the latter be better?
    The sector in question has funds covering risk profiles 3 to 8 on 1-10 scale. If you were a cautious investor, you wouldnt be able to handle the volatility of the higher equity funds in that sector. Those funds would be at the top end on performance after a growth period. The lower equity funds would be below average on performance.

    There is no point investing in the top performing fund in that sector if you cannot handle the volatility that goes with it. So, a cautious investor would be better with a lower risk fund that would appear to have lower returns in a period that has been mostly growth.

    Remember that those funds at the top of the charts at the moment will be at the bottom in negative periods.

    Finally: when did funds last drop by 35-40%? and how long did they take to recover?
    2008/9 was last one and then 2001 to 2003 before that. Around 4-5 years was the recovery period.


    e.g Q4 2018 was pretty bad
    Actually, it wasn't. It wasn't even classed as crash. On average, it was around 16%. That is quite mild.

    It is one thing saying you will accept it. Especially when you only see the statement once a year. Its another when it actually happens and you have online access and look at the balances frequently or you get a quarterly statement.

    For example, pre MIFID, a 6 monthly statement in October and April would have almost completely seen that Q4 2018 drop missed by those that only loook at statements. However, now they are quarterly, they got a statement in December just a few days after the lowest point.

    People who have gone through much bigger negative periods but didn't necessarily see them are now seeing the worst of the smaller drops and getting nervous and making bad decisions.

    No. One can and should look at the performance of indices which VLS funds represent. It goes way back. And beats the vast majority of active funds over any decent period of time.
    That would be far too much work for the average individual.
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from an Independent Financial Adviser local to you.
    • Mordko
    • By Mordko 10th Apr 19, 11:38 AM
    • 191 Posts
    • 48 Thanks
    Mordko
    In 2018 most markets dipped into the bear market territory - a 20% drop from the peak. It’s just that they did it over more than one quarter.

    Looking at the performance of index funds vs active funds is easy. The work has been done. Reading books and googling are the only skills needed. Also, a bit of common sense will tell you that anyone paying a huge chunk of expected market returns in charges is going to underperform the market over any decent period of time. Even active portfolios with less crazy charges underperform in most cases

    Here is Vanguards White Paper providing some statistics. https://personal.vanguard.com/pdf/ISGIDX.pdf

    And another one https://d9l6g2vjiqrcr.cloudfront.net/documents/BMT-PS_Whitepaper.pdf
    • beamyup
    • By beamyup 11th Apr 19, 7:23 AM
    • 55 Posts
    • 14 Thanks
    beamyup
    In 2018 most markets dipped into the bear market territory - a 20% drop from the peak. Itís just that they did it over more than one quarter.

    Looking at the performance of index funds vs active funds is easy. The work has been done. Reading books and googling are the only skills needed. Also, a bit of common sense will tell you that anyone paying a huge chunk of expected market returns in charges is going to underperform the market over any decent period of time. Even active portfolios with less crazy charges underperform in most cases

    Here is Vanguards White Paper providing some statistics.
    h t t p s://personal.vanguard.com/pdf/ISGIDX.pdf[/url]

    And another one
    h t t p s://d9l6g2vjiqrcr.cloudfront.net/documents/BMT-PS_Whitepaper.pdf
    Originally posted by Mordko
    These documents should be read and absorbed by all, great find! Thanks.
    • fronty
    • By fronty 16th Apr 19, 11:23 AM
    • 16 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    fronty
    IFA is coming round on Thursday, will probably be doing his best to retain my business, we'll see!
    • Lokolo
    • By Lokolo 16th Apr 19, 12:53 PM
    • 20,088 Posts
    • 15,232 Thanks
    Lokolo
    I feel MSE has been invaded by Reddit users recently.

    - OP, you should ignore all the Vanguard and Index Fund information for now. This is further along the line.

    - You first need to work out what you want. I take a great deal of interest in my investments and financial instruments. I do not take an interest in my car, heating or electrics. I pay for these. I pay over the odds for these. I know I do, but frankly I'd rather pay over the odds for someone to do the job (and have made errors in judgements with tradesman!) than try and do it myself and make a hash out of it.

    - Learn your risk profile, what your aims are and how these fit in with what investment decisions you want to make. For example, are you near retirement? Maybe you want to avoid direct shares and 100% equity portfolio.

    - Decide whether you want to pick your own funds and whether any funds fit your risk profile. Or if you want to just go for generic index trackers.

    - Work out whether you feel the fees are worth the fund. A lot of people on this thread are telling you to go for index trackers. Personally I have a hybrid. For large cap (you need to know what I mean by this if you want to DIY), I tend to go for index trackers. But for small cap or specialist (including emerging markets) I tend to go for active fund management. This has worked out for me and for the past 3 years I have beaten an index tracking portfolio each year. (one fund has failed in the last 6 months though, massively behind its index)

    - I saw a post in this thread saying you only need to spend 4 hours looking at your portfolio a year. This is bordering on ridiculous. You do not need to spend 4 hours a week, but you do need to spend at least a couple of days (a weekend) reviewing your portfolio each year. Rebalancing (again, you need to know what this is).

    - I saw another post recommending 3-4 ETFs for a portfolio. I wouldn't recommend this, if you want to limit the number of investments, then multi asset ones would be a good start. I currently have 7 and would increase to 8 or 9 to get some exposure to other asset classes.


    I think it's great taking an interest in your affairs and whether you are getting value for money. Personally, I think the 1% fee from their end is too expensive, I would be getting that down nearer to 0.5%, but as they are a wealth manager you may find they won't move from that. The platform fee should be cheaper than 0.35% as well (my SIPP platform is fixed fee and is currently 0.24% of my current fund value, my workplace pension is 0.15% fee).

    I would question whether you need a wealth management service.
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