Over the past few months you may have seen a number of corporate stories published by 7IM. From the launch of their retirement planning service, to the opening of their Jersey office through to anniversaries for some of their key services and most recently, the unveiling of their SIPP. This week I caught up with Verona Smith, Head of Platform, to DISCUSs the recent changes and what they mean for advisers.

What impact do recent developments at 7IM has on advisers?

DISCUS. We published a story in March on the launch of your retirement planning service, designed to help advisers support clients in decumulation. Can you provide an update?

Verona Smith (VS). The launch has been going well. It is an exciting time to be working with those advisers advising clients at or in retirement. Pension freedoms has opened a world of flexibility and with it comes the need to harness this freedom in an efficient and risk controlled way.

We soft launched the service during our adviser roadshow but, as with any service, it’s a story we will need to talk about again and again until people understand the opportunities that can stem from our service and how it could support their business.

In much the same way that advisers took time to develop the right centralised investment proposition for their practices, we believe there is a need to develop a centralised retirement proposition that is scalable and meets the complex needs of clients post pension freedoms.

The changes to retirement planning as a result of the 2015 pension freedoms legislation gave advisers an opportunity to broaden their advice and have a longer term relationship with their client – and indeed be much more involved in intergenerational support – but it was a double edged sword as with it comes a lot of pressure. Clients risk not achieving the retirement lifestyle they have envisioned and advisers will be at the heart of helping them achieve a retirement to be enjoyed rather than endured.

There are plenty of firms out there offering to deliver the investment management element. However, with this service we offer far more holistic support and a service that’s available to the adviser at every stage of the process – a package that the launch of our SIPP will help.

The ultimate outcome is that it should make it easier for an adviser to support clients who are at or in retirement, by harnessing the benefits of our service which covers the investment and technology elements required for advisers to deliver their proposition to their clients. Becoming a pension provider in our own right also underscores our commitment to the retirement market and helping advisers to the best of our capabilities.


DISCUS. How does the launch of your SIPP add to the offering, given there were already third party SIPPs available via the 7IM platform? Will this SIPP eventually replace the others?

VS. The launch of our SIPP is a natural part of our evolution. The 7IM platform has the technology and flexibility to help us deliver a retirement planning service that we are really proud of. The introduction of our own SIPP enhances this further.

Our SIPP is competitively priced and fully integrated with the 7IM platform. It also supports additional options, for example 7IM is able to pre-fund tax relief on pension contributions, which means more money is put to work earlier than can sometimes be the case.

The launch of this does not change the existing options for advisers to access other SIPPs via the 7IM platform. We understand that from a suitability point of view it is important that we maintain our open architecture approach, hence we will continue to work with all SIPP providers that our clients wish to use.


DISCUS. How does the opening of the Jersey office fit into this?

VS. We have had an offshore offering since we made three Dublin-based multi manager risk rated strategies available in 2009. In February 2017 we extended the range to include three of our Asset Allocated Passive (AAP) funds and our offshore platform also went live in 2017.

The opening of a Jersey office allows us to work more closely with the financial planning and trustee community out of the Channel Islands, supporting clients who want to be able to access a cost effective and flexible offering.

The combination of our discretionary management services and the offshore fund range with our innovative platform service, technology and advanced reporting is something that sets us apart from many.


DISCUS. Our readers will also have read the news about the acquisition of Tcam Asset Management in Edinburgh. What can advisers now expect?

VS. It’s still very early days. We are waiting on FCA approval, but the initial focus will be on integrating the businesses, which have complementary strengths. So, for example, Tcam’s active management expertise will broaden our funds and model portfolio offering. And having more people being nearer to advisers in Scotland helps us give better, proactive support.


DISCUS. It’s been a time for celebration at 7IM: the Asset Allocated Funds recently celebrated their 10th anniversary; three of the four equity value funds now have a three year track record; and 7IMagine recently turned five. What’s next?

VS. Many of these investment strategies and the development of the App were among the first of their kind in the industry. But with all of these, we have continued to develop their scope and how they support clients.

Using 7IMagine as an example, we developed the option for advisers to help their clients with cashflow planning through the My Future part of 7IMagine. This was launched in 2013 and has continued to be updated to include legislative and tax changes, as well as incorporate requests from advisers.

The Asset Allocated Passive funds have developed over the 10 years since their launch when they were predominantly invested in ETFs, to now encompassing a much broader range of investment options. These diversify portfolios and have an eye on the costs to clients to keep them as low as we can for actively managed strategies.

We are constantly reviewing the market and talking to our clients about how we can develop and improve our offering. We have some exciting things in the development pipeline including further developments to our offshore platform and investment capability. We look forward to sharing these developments with you as and when we can.


This post was created for the DISCUS website based on an interview with Verona Smith, Head of Platform, to discuss the recent developments at 7IM. You can find out more about 7IM and their investment services here ›