In March, adviser Neale McCullough and his wife, Wendy, received a call that is every parent’s nightmare – their son, Toby, was in intensive care. To make matters worse, they were almost 4,000 miles apart – Neale and Wendy in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Toby in the British Virgin Islands where he works as a sailing instructor.
With flights, accommodation and medical bills to suddenly pay for, they needed access to capital – and fast.
“Obviously, they needed to be at his side and Wendy flew out within hours of the call,” said Amanda Kirkpatrick, office manager at MC3 Investments. “Neale remained here to support his other children but as things progressed, he needed to fly out also.
“He informed me he needed access to his Zurich pension portfolio tax-free cash, and it was up to me to ensure this happened as smoothly and quickly as possible."
Being over 55, Neale was able to access some of his tax-free cash entitlement from his pension, which is held on the Zurich Intermediary Platform. Thanks to pre-funding, the funds were released within 24 hours of the request.
Time of need
“I called Tom, our business account manager at Zurich, who I knew would be able to either assist or get me to the right person,” said Amanda.
“Once I explained what was required, I received telephone assistance to talk me through the requirements on the platform and then Zurich released the cash. This was done incredibly quickly, and I found the support and the process very efficient.
“Neale was very impressed by how quickly Zurich handled everything and, of course, was also very grateful in his time of need. It was one less worry for him and Wendy to know the cash was available and ready to use.
“This was the first time we had made use of Zurich’s pre-funding facility, so it is very helpful to know how efficient it is for future use.
“We still don’t know for sure what happened as Toby cannot remember, but thankfully after a few months of rehabilitation, he has made great progress and is back at work in the British Virgin Islands.”
What is pre-funding?
Pre-funding is when platforms invest clients’ money before the funds have actually cleared. This can be used to facilitate a trade or, as in this case, give the client their money back. Depending on the platform, it can be applied on numerous types of transactions, such as switching and rebalancing, pre-funding pension tax relief and withdrawals.
When money is paid out, cash is made available once confirmation is received from the fund manager (or managers).
In its latest report, consultancy The lang cat found just three of 16 platforms offered pre-funding on income withdrawals.
"Proud to be a part of it"
Thomas Whelan, MC3 Investments’ business account manager at Zurich, said: “I was proud to be part of it. It was absolutely fantastic that we were able to deliver for the client like this. It was the client’s money – we were only giving it back to him! But the speed with which we were able to do it using pre-funding was fantastic.
“It was almost like a role play – we got the call, I contacted somebody better equipped than me to handle the technical details and head office did their bit all on the same day.
“I called back the next day to check everything went well and the client was very happy. It doesn’t always go perfectly, but to be able to deliver in that way felt great.
“And there were no dramas – nobody had to drop everything they were doing to facilitate this. It all happened as part of a clean process and it worked perfectly.”
Find out more about the Zurich Intermediary Platform