Who is Embark?
Extracts taken from their Corporate Information Pack state:
“Embark are a fast growing, diversified, financial services business and one of the largest retirement solutions providers in the UK. We operate successfully in both the advised and institutional areas of the retirement market through our leading range of pension, wrap platform, research and consultancy services.”
“Embark has significant institutional backing from a portfolio of high quality ‘cornerstone’ long term investors, including Blackrock, FNZ, Legg Mason and New Star Investment Trust. The Merian Chrysalis Investment Company has also made a material investment in the Group together with Franklin Templeton whose investments will take effect in early 2020.
Further information is available about Embark Group at its website embarkgroup.co.uk. Alternatively refer to “How do I cover the pending acquisition by Embark Group in a suitability letter?” question.
Will my Embark Group contact replace my Embark/Zurich contact?
Although the structure has yet to be announced, Embark has confirmed that it is not planning on making any changes to your relationship contacts at this time. You should continue to speak with your Embark contact about the Embark Platform.
You should continue to speak to your Embark/Zurich consultant when the sale of the Zurich Intermediary Platform (to be renamed Advance by Embark) is completed.
What is the AKG rating of Embark?
The Zurich Intermediary Platform and Embark Group have been accorded broadly similar ‘strong’ financial strength ratings from the independent financial ratings organisation AKG, with the current and forthcoming owners of the Platform each administering billions of pounds of assets: Zurich some £25bn and Embark around £33bn once this sale is concluded.
Embarks states, “We have been awarded a financial strength rating of ‘B’ by AKG, which means our overall financial strength is strong across the Embark Group.”
When will the transfer take place?
At the earliest possible opportunity. We are gearing up for 1 May 2020.
We will keep you updated, now that Embark has received approval from the FCA for the transfer of control.
Will the platform be the same?
Yes. Embark has confirmed there are no changes planned to the functionality of the Zurich Intermediary Platform when the ownership changes to Embark.
Will my clients be notified of the change?
Yes. Our plans include notifying clients about the sale. We will proceed to do so now that the FCA has approved the sale. The questions and answers within the Client tab will be included with the letter to your clients.
How do I cover the pending acquisition by Embark Group in a suitability letter?
Embark Group has a document that explains its organisation. This is available on its website embarkgroup.co.uk.
The latest copy of Embark’s corporate information pack is included for your ease.
- Embark’s corporate information pack
Who do I contact regarding Zurich legacy products?
In addition to operating the Zurich Intermediary Platform, Sterling ISA Managers Limited (SIML) has also offered Sterling ISAs and Investment Accounts in the past. SIML as an entity is being sold to Embark Group and therefore you should speak with your Embark/Zurich consultant about all current and legacy products provided by SIML.
Note that other Zurich legacy products – such as investment bonds – that have been provided in the past via the separate entity Zurich Assurance Limited, are not part of SIML and are therefore unaffected by the sale of SIML. To reiterate, the sale doesn’t impact any other Zurich products and for these you should continue to contact the Zurich service teams as you do currently.
Do I need to inform my clients of a change of ownership?
We will be informing all clients about the forthcoming changes. Understandably, some clients may have some follow-up questions and they may wish to speak with you about this change in ownership.
Do I need to redo my annual Platform review as it has new ownership?
As part of your ongoing review process you may wish to update your clients about the forthcoming change in ownership, now that FCA approval has been obtained.
Will the Platform change name?
Yes. The Platform will be renamed to Advance by Embark.
Will Accounts remain linked through family linking?
The benefits of Family Linking will remain in place for new and existing clients. Linking continues to be available for up to three generations of family. This includes SIPPs and family trusts, and is subject to the existing minimum combined family assets of £200,000 on the Zurich Intermediary Platform (to be renamed Advance by Embark.)
Will adviser charges continue to be paid as normal?
Yes. There will be no alteration to the payment date(s) your firm selected to facilitate the adviser fees, or any change to how you will be paid.
Are all the platform clients being transferred to the Embark Platform?
No. The Zurich Intermediary Platform will continue to operate under the new name of Advance by Embark.
Who should I make cheques payable to?
Cheques should continue to be made payable to Sterling ISA Managers Limited.
Are advisers required to sign up to new terms of business for the Platform?
No. As an existing user of the Platform, your firm signed Zurich Terms of Business when you first started using the Platform. At the point of transition to Embark Group, there will be no change to the terms that impact your firm.
Will the platform annual charges be increased?
No. Embark has told us that there will be no increase in the platform charges your clients pay.
Will existing clients paying regular contributions have to complete a new direct debit mandate?
No. There will be no requirement for those clients already paying contributions by direct debit mandate to complete a new mandate or alter any of their payment dates.
What actions do I need to take to ensure my clients’ income continues uninterrupted?
No action required. Income payments will continue to be made on the same date selected by your client.
Will clients continue to have online access?
Yes. Access will remain, giving online access to those clients you have permissioned.
Will I still be able to add new and service existing clients using my existing login credentials?