Unum and Hollingdale in workplace investment platform launch

Staffcare founder Phil Hollingdale is partnering with actuary Ben Pollard and Unum to launch a start-up savings and investments platform to be distributed through the workplace.

Pollard, left and Hollingdale

Unum is part owner of the venture, which is called SmarterInvestment and which offers Isa, Junior Isa and general investment account options, as well as transfers in. Designed for the workplace, the platform offers comparison tables showing projected returns for stocks and shares Isas filtered on risk/return ratio. It offers the ability to blend multiple Isas into risk-graded portfolios. It does not offer cash Isas.

Platform charges are 0.4 per cent, with average AMCs on typical portfolio costing an extra 0.25 per cent.

Pollard has founded the business and Hollingdale is taking the role of executive chairman of the business. He ceased being CEO of Staffcare when the business was sold to SimplyBiz in 2013, although he retains an advisory role with the firm. The service is understood to be already partnering with a number of benefits consultants.

Pollard says: “A few years ago, I set out to buy an investment Isa. As a consulting actuary, I’d spent a lot of time helping big financial companies look after their own money, so I expected buying an Isa for myself to be pretty straightforward. I was amazed at just how difficult it was. Most of the analysis I found was really just marketing material and of no real help in choosing an investment. I wanted to use my actuarial skills to help, so decided to launch Smarter Investment.”

“We’re focused on workplace as the low cost of promoting our offering to employees means we can discount our charges to offer a better financial deal as well as a more engaging experience than they will find with most consumer financial websites. We’ve also built tools for integrating with benefit platforms and payroll providers so any contributions into savings plans can be made via payroll deduction” says Pollard.

Hollingdale says: “Smarter helps people make more informed decisions about their savings and investments in an engaging way by combining best practice e-commerce techniques with artificial intelligence. At a time when interest rates are rock bottom and financial wellbeing is high on the agenda of most employers, we bring a new compelling savings proposition to consumers via the workplace.”

Unum COO Steve Harry says: “Financial wellbeing is an important component of an overall employee benefits package, and Unum is supportive of SmarterInvestment’s efforts to make workplace savings schemes easier for businesses to offer to their employees. Unum looks forward to its continued involvement with SmarterInvestment to help support the further development of the business.”