My experience of using platforms

I’d discovered investment trusts many years ago, long before platforms were a twinkle in any product provider’s eye. So once the term platform entered the adviser’s daily language, it was essential to have one that allowed investment trusts.  Fortunately the answer came early in the form of Transact, established in the UK after success in its birthplace Australia.  The investor could hold any assets on Transact, even individual shares, so the entire value of a portfolio could be seen at a glance.

The service was excellent then, and has continued to be so ever since.  Despite the growing number of platforms and fund supermarkets, Transact have always avoided the temptation to add on “bells and whistles” that looked good in the marketing but that hardly anyone would use. Charges have always been reasonable, but then you wouldn’t choose Transact on the basis of cost: you choose it because it is the most comprehensive of platforms, as well as being straightforward to use.

The one downside from a private investor’s viewpoint is that a Transact portfolio can only be set up through financial advisers, although the investor can manage the portfolio themselves. For those private investors who prefer to do it all themselves I have always liked Alliance Trust, which was a kind of platform before the term was ever used. In the early days you could hold any investment trust, a wide range of unit trusts, and FTSE-100 shares, providing you invested a small amount in the Alliance Trust itself. This last requirement was removed some years ago.

They have expanded the service, and increased their marketing to try and encourage more advisers to use them – food for thought for advisers. I still see Alliance Trust as the platform of choice for the investment trust private investor. Cost isn’t an issue: only £10+VAT per quarter, plus £12.50 per trade. It’s an interesting proposition.