We are often asked for more information on various savings providers that are of interest. In this regular series of articles, we aim to turn the spotlight on a relatively new innovation in the savings market – Savings Platforms.
These platforms effectively offer savers a one-stop shop to open a range of savings accounts in one click, with one application. Now they may not always be the best, but they can offer some competitive rates and will almost certainly beat the big banks, which sadly is where the majority of savers are still keeping their cash. So, although not for everyone, if you’re looking to improve returns with as little faff as possible, they could be a great option.
To better explain the Savings Platforms available, we are running a series of Provider Focuses covering these new ‘platforms’ – explaining what they are, how they work and why they might be right for you.
With each provider, we will be giving you more information about their background and history and why they are of particular interest in today’s savings market.
We hope that you find this information useful and, as always, if you have any feedback or suggestions as to who should appear in a future article, please let us know.
The platform chosen this time is Flagstone – it currently offers some competitive savings accounts via its platform, which you might want access to. But just what is Flagstone and what value can it add to you?
Flagstone is an FCA authorised and regulated financial technology company. Founded in 2013, it was the first cash platform to be established in the UK and is a market leader, which often enables it to secure exclusive interest rates from its banking partners. Flagstone provides clients with access to more than 500 accounts from 26 partner banks.
The Flagstone Cash Platform is the pick and mix variety. Think of it like a supermarket which offers a variety of savings accounts, which you can pick and choose from.
The minimum deposit is currently £250,000, although this will be reducing to £50,000 in early 2019. So, if you are looking to deposit smaller amounts, an alternative platform might be more appropriate. Take a look at our other Platform reviews:
The key benefit of a platform is that you can open a number of different accounts with different providers, but you only have to fill in your personal details once during the application process and Flagstone will complete a single compliance and identification check.
So, once you are registered with Flagstone, you can view, manage and open your choice of savings accounts with just a few clicks of the mouse.
Although you send your money to Flagstone, your money will be held with the individual partner banks and building societies that you open accounts with - NOT Flagstone – so you will be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) that is applicable to that individual provider.
This does mean however that you need to be wary of placing too much money with a provider that you already have funds with – although you are in control of where your money is placed.
Flagstone is a well-developed platform and currently has partnerships with 28 UK savings providers and offers many different product types, including easy access, notice accounts and fixed rate bonds. They will continue to increase the products available and we’ll keep you up to date with this.
Not all of the banks will offer all products. For example, of the 26 UK providers on the platform, 20 offer personal accounts and 20 offer business accounts.
- As well as personal and business accounts, Flagstone also caters for SIPPs, charities and trusts.
Of course, just because it’s on the platform, doesn’t mean that it is a best buy, especially when you deduct the platform fee (see below). But sometimes simplicity is the best option, which is why these platforms are being developed. If they encourage savers to move their money from the high street banks and therefore earn more, whilst keeping more of it safe, that’s a better option than not moving the money at all...
You can always check what the very best rates on the market are by looking at our best buy tables.
As mentioned above, Flagstone does not cover the whole of the UK savings market, although it does have partnerships with 26 UK banks, some of which offer very competitive rates.
However, just because these accounts are on the platform, this doesn’t automatically mean they are market leading – so it makes sense to check the competition on our best buy tables or call one of our savings experts on 0800 011 9705.
To get an idea of some of the rates available via Flagstone, take a look at the examples below:
|Instant Access||1.40%||Exclusive, available to individuals, businesses & charities|
|35 Day Notice||1.50%||Exclusive, available to individuals, businesses & charities|
|6 Month Fixed Term Deposit||1.75%||Available to individuals & businesses|
|12 Month Fixed Term Deposit||2.15%||Exclusive, available to individuals only|
|18 Month Fixed Term Deposit||2.25%||Available to individuals & businesses|
To view how these rates compare with the best on the market, take a look at our Best Buy tables:
If you meet the criteria, the Flagstone Cash Platform could be the solution to your cash needs, as you can open multiple savings accounts, with multiple providers without having to make multiple applications.
And as the platform offers access to easy access and notice accounts, as well as fixed rate bonds, if you are looking for a way to earn significantly more than your high street bank is offering, this could be the simple solution you need, compared to leaving your funds languishing in low rates and unprotected.
- The minimum deposit on the platform is currently £250,000 and the individual products have a minimum deposit of £75,000 or greater. (However, as mentioned earlier, both of these thresholds are to be significantly reduced in early 2019).
- The application and the opening of accounts is all done online, although this platform works a little differently. While it is an execution only and online service, an adviser will speak to you initially, in order to create a bespoke illustration, which will indicate the returns and security you could achieve and to explain how it all works.
- Flagstone accounts can be opened in single or joint names. But if you want some accounts in single names and some in joint, you’ll need to open more than one Flagstone account and each will need a minimum deposit of £250,000 (£50,000 from next year).
- You’ll need to scan certified copies of identification documents such as a Passport and Driving Licence to Flagstone, who will then verify your identity electronically. But you will NOT need to do this each time you apply for a savings account – just on the initial Flagstone application.
There is an initial set up fee of £500, plus the following annual fee which is paid monthly in arrears.
|Account Balance (£)||Management Fee (%)|
|£250,000 - £999,999||0.250%|
|£1,000,000 - £2,499,999||0.225%|
|£2,500,000 - £4,999,999||0.200%|
|£5,000,000 - £9,999,999||0.175%|
In order to decide whether the Flagstone platform is right for you, a Flagstone adviser will produce a bespoke illustration of the rates that you could achieve and take you through this and a demo of how the platform works. If you have a minimum of £250,000 in cash that you are looking to deposit, request an illustration from a Flagstone adviser now.
When you are ready to proceed, complete the application pack that will be emailed to you – this can be either completed online or printed and completed by hand, then scanned back to Flagstone.
- ID - Flagstone will need scanned certified copies of ID for every customer. These can be certified by registered accountants, solicitors, bankers and FCA registered financial advisers.
Once the application and ID is accepted and your account has been set up, you can log in, deposit your funds in the Hub Account and build your savings portfolio, choosing how much you want in easy access, notice and in fixed terms and the providers that are offering the best rates.
Just because they are on the platform, this doesn’t mean they are the best rates, but Flagstone does have some very competitive options and some are exclusive.
You can pay into your Flagstone Hub Account (held by Barclays) either by electronic transfer (if necessary over a series of days), CHAPS (paying the £20- £30 fee) or they will also accept a cheque.
As soon as you have chosen your accounts, Flagstone will initiate the transfer of the funds from the Hub Account to the new providers. This process is generally completed within two working days.
The funds are never held by Flagstone – so there is no credit exposure with them.
The funds are never held by Flagstone - so there is no credit exposure with them. However, the money is transferred to the chosen banks via the trustee Hub Account with Barclays – so until you choose your accounts, you will be holding more than the FSCS limit with Barclays.
As this platform includes easy access and notice accounts, you can choose to redeem funds from your portfolio. If you make the request before 2pm, the funds will be transferred on the same day – if it’s after 2pm, it will be in your Hub Account on the next working day.
If you choose to make a withdrawal from a notice account, you will be notified when the funds are to be transferred to the Hub Account AFTER the notice period is up.
Once the funds are back in the Hub Account, you can then request them to be either moved to a different savings account by clicking on the account of your choice or choose to have it sent back to your nominated current account. There is no option for transferring the money to any other external account, to safeguard funds from any potentially fraudulent activity.
Flagstone produces a factsheet for each bank, with some in-depth information and carries out a financial strength test, so gives you more information about who you are placing your funds with.
Of course, this is no guarantee of future security, but savers who are happy to put more than the FSCS protection limit with each provider, may find this useful in determining which banks they are happy to use - but only the FSCS will offer the guarantee.
Once accepted, you can view, purchase and manage a range of savings products online – all in one place, without filling in an application form or going through ID checks each time. Ordinarily and without the use of such a platform, if you open multiple savings accounts, you have to apply to each bank and therefore fill in multiple application forms and pass each bank’s own ‘Know Your Client’ identification checks.
As a platform, the reporting of what accounts you hold is important and as well as providing a dashboard so that you can view all your accounts in one place – including balance, interest rates, maturity dates and how much is covered by the FSCS, Flagstone will also provide an annual summary of interest for tax reporting. This is a huge benefit as we know how just how much hassle it can be getting this from individual savings providers.
Any change to the account will trigger an email alert from Flagstone, so if there is a rate change or your fixed term account is coming up for maturity, you will be informed.
On maturity, the initial deposit and interest will be returned to the Hub Account with Barclays. But it will remain there until you give your instruction as to where it should go next – either back to your linked current account or into a new savings account via Flagstone. The platform cannot automatically move the funds out of the Hub Account, so it is the customer's responsibility to confirm what happens to the funds next. Otherwise the funds will stay in the Hub Account, earning no interest and potentially without full FSCS protection, if the amount is greater than £85,000 (£170,000 for joint accounts).
In order to keep customers up to date with accounts that are available via the platform, there is a weekly email showing all prevailing rates, so that they can make any changes or add further funds if they see a new account that is of interest.
Currently Flagstone provides clients with access to more banks than any other platform and a choice of more accounts, including a number of exclusive rates for instant access and notice accounts – not just fixed rate bonds. So, it is a platform that could service many of your savings needs.
It also secures rates from its banking partners that you won’t find elsewhere in the market, which will sometimes be market leading – as ever we’ll keep you informed.
These offers will change, so you’ll need to keep an eye on how they compare with the wider market.
Obviously, the best option is to open up the highest-paying accounts available from the whole market, but we understand that some people just don’t want the hassle or don’t have the time.
So, if you’re looking for simplicity when opening multiple accounts and you’ve money sitting in a dreadful account, such as the likes of HSBC’s Flexible Saver account paying a paltry 0.15% - then you’ll get a better return with Flagstone. So don’t sit back and do nothing, make the switch to a better account.
*We are occasionally paid by some providers if you click through from our Best Buy Tables and open a savings or current account with them. We will never accept a payment that compromises in any way our independent, whole of market approach to providing information on savings products. For clarity we will indicate those companies who remunerate us with an asterisk (*).
All rates correct at the date of publication.
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