Part of being independent is having the freedom to say what you think, even when it’s not popular or doesn’t do you very much good. This normally translates to having a pop at stuck-in-the-past lifecos if you’re me, as the long and growing list of folk who would rather have endless Miley Cyrus videos beamed DIRECTLY INTO THEIR BRAIN FOREVER than take a call from me attests. Such is life.

But sometimes it also means being positive when others scoff. Such a time is now, in light of AXA Wealth and Architas’ recent announcement about unique share classes, which IFAOnline covered here. I’m already bored of typing ‘AXA Wealth and Architas’ so I’m going to call them Architaxa, a name which I intend to trademark and sell back to them for MEEELLLIONS.

Now, I am on record as having hated the discounted platform deal which generated so much interest and so much inflow to the Architaxa proposition. I think there’s stuff to like about Elevate, especially since the price cut, and a lot to like about Architas, especially the passive range. But the conditional nature of that deal, and the tied cottage feel of it…eurgh. Many at AXA Wealth, including some very senior folk, have very kindly tried to show me the error of my ways on this, and I understand their view, but no-one could ever convince me it didn’t whiff.

Happily for me, the FCA concurred, and legislated this deal (and the 7IM equivalent and several others) out of existence. So the Architaxa Massive has donned thinking caps, and come out with a unique SUPERCLEANTM share class which is 20bps lower than others will get. You’ll only get this on Elevate (and presumably other Architaxa propositions). And guess what?

I like it, a lot. Well, a bit. Well, I’m not entirely turned off by it.

I’m not a fan of SUPERCLEANTM; it’s largely silly. I’m not a fan of vertical integration; it normally masks jiggery, and pokery too. But here I think we have something that actually works. I’ve been asking myself why I’m not kicking against it as I usually would, and I think the answer is that each part of the proposition punches its own weight. Elevate is a perfectly serviceable platform, and is now less overpriced than it was (although I still don’t like pure ad valorem charges). Architas has some good funds and portfolios, which make a credible if slightly pricey alternative to some of the usual suspects, especially again in passive-land. Smash them together in a way that doesn’t have any funny conditions and is completely transparent, and why not? That works pretty well.

I like that if you only use Architas for, say, 20% of your portfolio, it’s still cheaper. No nonsense about all or nothing. I like the narrative about rewarding multiple purchases – after all, AXA is an insurance giant and hands out discounts like sweeties to those who buy more than one household policy. That makes sense to me, and will to clients too. A nice chap at Architas tells me that additional expenses will be identical to the standard fund, and are capped at 20bps in any event.

Before we get misty-eyed, it’s not all shiny. If Architas can take 20bps out for AXA Wealth, it can for everyone. Those funds are probably overpriced. Fund distribution and platform distribution don’t walk together in Architaxa, meaning that the cost savings for getting both bits probably aren’t all that considerable. I imagine we’ll see this deal popping up elsewhere pretty soon – ‘exclusively for everyone?’ We’ll see.

It ties people in – yes of course you can move Mr Client, but you’ll lose that lovely disssscounnnt – are you sure that’s what you want? Hmmmm? Hmmmm? Re-reg will be a pain. And so on.

I’m not qualified to say if this is good value or not as a combo. That’s up to the people who buy it. But I do think that if you’re going to try and generate platform and investment assets in your Stuff at the same time, then this is a pretty decent way to go about it. Others should, and probably will, follow suit.