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New unit trust platform for financial advisers

08 February 2008 Gareth Stokes

The South African collective investments industry has grown from strength to strength in the last decade. At the end of December 2007 a total of R653.463bn was invested across 831 local funds. The industry’s success is attributed in part to the attractive

What exactly is a LISP?

People in the financial services industry often bandy about terms without really knowing what they mean. So what exactly is a LISP? We spent some time on the Linked Investment Services Providers Association (LISPA) website to learn more. They provide a layman’s definition:

“A LISP is a financial institution, which packages, distributes and administers a broad range of unit trust based investments spanning voluntary to retirement planning products. Any investment made through these products provides a client a single entry into a selection of investment elements whereby a financial advisor assists in designing a suitable investment plan.” There is a further distinguishing feature which investors should note. LISPs can be discretionary, in that they exercise investment discretion on behalf of the client; or non-discretionary, where they exercise NO discretion on.

LISPA has a number of members including Alan Gray, Citadel, Equinox, Investment Solutions, Momentum Wealth, Sanlam Linked Investments and StanLib Wealth Management. These companies basically “buy unit trusts (and other collective investments) in bulk from collective investment companies at a wholesale rate.” This enables them to pass cost savings on to investors.

A different approach

In today’s feature article we would like to take a look at EFS Investment Solutions which operates an online unit trust retail service through http://www.equinox.co.za/. The company distinguishes itself from other players in the LISP environment in that they “focus on the accumulation phase of saving” rather than the management of retirement and living annuities.

Equinox recently launched a collective investment trust trading platform that will be of interest to independent financial advisors. The platform, known as Intervest, will make it easier to separately manage client portfolios in the 550 funds that Equinox currently offers. EFS Chief Operating Officers, Cathy van der Merwe says ‘Independent advisors will now be able to take advantage of the real time portfolio valuation, access to the widest range of collective investments, transparency and efficiency that we offer our direct clients, in our separately branded Intervest portal.”

The beauty of the product is it allows financial advisors to “administer their client unit trust and retirement fund investments from one platform where they can draw detailed statements, tax certificates, buy sell and switch in real time.” Van der Merwe also notes that “EFS Investment Solutions (Pty) Ltd has 13b Retirement Fund Administration license, which means that financial advisors will also be able to manage their clients’ retirement annuities, pension and provident funds on our platform.”

A model that keeps advisors in the picture

A number of financial advisors already use the Equinox website to manage client funds – and Van der Merwe believes this number will swell as advisors realise the benefits the Intervest platform offers them. The company has an ambitious target of R2bn under management on the platform at the end of three years. Intervest draws from the company’s eight year’s of technology development and takes financial advisors concerns to heart. The platform ensures the advisor is not cut out of the system. And this means…

“Our system enables the easy, transparent and automated management of commissions,” said van der Merwe. Both initial and ongoing commissions are handled seamlessly by the system. The company press release summarises: “Initial commission is allocated to the relevant commission portfolio upon the real time completion of the client’s transaction, while ongoing commission is transferred automatically on a monthly basis.”

Editor’s thoughts:
Purchasing collective investments on a LISP platform holds some cost benefits for private investors. The bulking practice employed by the LISP secures slightly better fees than are generally available when purchasing units directly. Do you use a LISP platform to assist your client’s with their savings and retirement needs? Add your comments below, or send them to gareth@fanews.co.za

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