This week, Heather Hopkins (@heatherahopkins), Research Director at Platforum, looks at drawdown pricing from the adviser platforms.


We have spent the past few weeks pouring over prices charged for drawdown by adviser and direct platforms. It seems we aren’t alone in our fascination with fees – drawdown pricing hit the big time this week, debated in the House of Lords.

You may remember that towards the end of last year a handful of platforms cut or dropped drawdown set-up fees. Things appear to have settled down and we note some major differences in the fees charged by the platforms for drawdown.

We published the results of our analysis this week in our Platform Drawdown Pricing and Functionality report. Price comparisons can be tricky. No single scenario reflects reality for any investor. There is the added complication that some platforms offer lower than advertised rates to certain adviser firms. That said, the comparisons offer a useful benchmark for comparing the different platforms.

For the adviser platforms, we ran ten different scenarios. These reflect various portfolio sizes (from £100k to £1m), clients invested in model portfolios (with the associated higher annual turnover) and buy-and-hold clients (with lower annual turnover).

The platforms stack up very differently for the different scenarios. Smaller portfolios (£100k – £250k) with model portfolios are well served by the likes of FundsNetwork, Parmenion, AXA Wealth Elevate, and Nucleus. For larger portfolios, James Hay’s Modular iPlan, Aegon, Cofunds and Aviva lead the pack in cost competitiveness.

For buy-and-hold investors, with much lower levels of transactions, FundsNetwork, Parmenion, Alliance Trust Savings and AXA Wealth Elevate are more competitive for portfolios on the smaller end of the scale. Alliance Trust Savings, Aegon, James Hay’s Modular iPlan, AJ Bell Investcentre and Aviva are more competitive for larger portfolios.

As you’d expect, Alliance Trust Savings fares far better in the buy-and-hold scenarios. It ranks among the lowest cost platforms across all our buy-and-hold scenarios. For a buy-and-hold portfolio of £250k, Alliance Trust Savings costs £350 compared to £600 for the next lowest cost, James Hay. The benefit of flat fees over ad valorem for larger accounts is even starker at £1m, where Alliance Trust Savings costs £350 and Novia comes in at £3,575.

Pricing comparisons are complicated and it took us a PhD in maths plus four analysts to run these comparisons! The pricing difference between the top and the bottom can be massive but we did find clusters in the bottom and the middle of the ranks. We encourage advisers to run their own scenarios based on client assets and intended investing behaviour. And of course, we recognise that price isn’t the only factor in selecting a platform!

For a summary of findings from the report, email us at