Thursday, 21 August 2014

Transfer Blues

This is going to be a bit of a rant ...

On Feb 19th 2014 Interactive Investor sent me a secure message saying that they had received my ISA transfer application form and would start things moving, but that I should be aware that the process could take up to 8 weeks.

Yesterday (26 weeks down the line) I had another message from them saying that they were still waiting for RLUM/CIS to re-register my funds with them in order to complete the transfer process. They expect that this will take another 2-3 weeks.

The time between these two messages has been interspersed with several messages/calls from myself querying the hold up which eventually uncovered the facts that:

1) They were holding the wrong address for RLUM/CIS. That is, they were holding the RLUM address in London (my fault, I wrongly believed that since RLUM had taken over CIS that was where correspondence should go) insted of the CIS address in Manchester. I corrected this for them by sending in another transfer form with the right details.

2) When it came to sending back the acceptance letter to CIS II didn't use this updated address but sent the letter back to the wrong address. They didn't chase when they didn't receive a reply.

3) At no point did any of the hold-ups on my transfer process alert II to make further enquiries/look at my paperwork/wonder why they still have a transfer that hasn't completed after more than 6 months. I have had to chase all the way.

I was aware that I was transferring at a time when we are continually been told that S&S ISA transfers are taking a long time due to volume so we have to be patient. I have been patient but am beginning to wish I hadn't. If I'd shouted a bit more they might have looked a little closer at what was going wrong.

The whole process is not transparent and no updates on progress are forthcoming but from what I have pieced together it seems that this is the order of proceedings:
  • Customer sends transfer request to new platform
  • New platform asks old platform/fund manager for valuation (via postal system)
  • Old platform prepares and sends valuation (via postal system)
  • New platform receives valuation and sends acceptance letter to old platform/fund manager
  • Old platform re-registers fund.
  • Fund appears on new platform.
Repeat for each fund in ISA

If the process stalls at any stage (at least in the case of II at this point in time) things grind to a complete standstill until the customer starts jumping up and down.  

In the meantime II have credited me with the commission credit and cash due as part of their transfer offer, which sounds good but which isn't actually quite so good as I can't use it until I have my CIS funds to sell as part of the re-balancing I'm planning. Unused commission credit is lost at the end of each quarter. The frustration grows. However, I was assured during (yet another) phone call yesterday that they will ensure that I do not lose out due to the delay, and will ensure that I can carry the credit forward. I intend to ask for this assurance in writing.

I know that my experience with II is not at all unusual (my husband's transfer has still not completed after 16 weeks and there are numerous posts on MSE complaining about the same issues), but at the end of the day I am not sorry that I started the transfer process, nor that I chose Interactive Investor. They are going to save me a hell of a lot of money, the online interface does the job, phones are answered promptly and messages replied to in a fairly timely manner but they do need to look at the systems/workflow behind their transfer process. It is absolutely not fit for purpose.

Back in April 2014 I read an article in Investors Chronicle which said that fast transfer for S&S ISAs was already possible but that it hadn't been implemented by many brokers due to the fact that their systems couldn't talk to each other. If the technology is in place I'm sure things will get better in the future, just as I am sure that at some point my funds will magically appear. But it will all be too late to change the fact that this experience hasn't done anything to help my already dodgy blood pressure.

Deep breaths ...


  1. I feel your frustration - what a ridiculously long time this has taken! Fingers crossed this gets sorted soon, so you can do the rebalancing that you mentioned you wanted to do and good that you will be saving lots of money (in fees, I presume?) when it finally gets transferred.

    Anyway, hope you enjoy the bank holiday! :-)

  2. Thanks weenie. I had a letter through from CIS yesterday saying that the transfer was complete from their side so I really do think I'm nearly there now. :-)