Due diligence and intro to Seccl

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Introduction

We’re a business on a mission.

Seccl is a custodian and investment technology company that powers firms at the cutting edge of financial advice and wealthtech.

On a mission to rebuild the infrastructure of investments and advice, Seccl provides firms of all sizes with affordable custody, trading and settlement services, feature- rich investment management technology, and a suite of paperless adviser and client portals.

Financial advisers and investment managers can combine these modules to operate their own platform – helping them to take control of their client relationships, improve their customer experience and own more of the value chain.

Elsewhere, technology-first businesses from all sectors can use Seccl’s publicly documented APIs to get plug-and-play access to the financial markets – helping them to launch new investment propositions more quickly and affordably than ever before.

In 2019, Seccl was acquired by Octopus Group, the £12.5 billion group of companies that includes Octopus Investments, Octopus Energy and Octopus Ventures.

Our unique approach

We help you take control
We want to empower a new generation of firms of all sizes to take greater control of their business – by operating their own platform.

The decision to build and operate a platform has traditionally been so costly or disruptive as to make it the exclusive option of large firms or national networks.

But with Seccl’s powerful custody, settlement and trading infrastructure, along with its intuitive user interfaces, it’s never been easier.

Now firms no longer have to settle for ‘white labelling’ an existing platform offering. Instead, they can own and shape the customer journey from start to finish – offering better service and becoming a more valuable business in the process.

We’re built to integrate
Our ‘API first’ philosophy means that everything we build is designed for deep, two-way integrations – making it easier to plug in to other tools and services that our clients may use.

We’re built for change
Seccl is built on a simple principle. We know that change is constant – and so we make sure that our technology is immune to it.

Traditionally, platforms introduce new features, functionality and integrations by altering their core code base. Not only is this slow and painful – it also makes them inherently inflexible, as they’re forced to undo all their hard work if circumstances change.

Instead, we’ve chosen to go back to first principles. Our core technology focuses on the essentials that every platform needs to do: to move money, to trade stock, and to do a combination of the two.

All additional functionality and integrations are then built as modules that plug into the core. This means that we can easily adapt to changing requirements, regulations or tax rules, without having to change the underlying code that powers our service.

With no legacy to manage, maintain or retrofit – and with one lean, clean code base, supported by a serverless, cloud-based systems architecture – we’re fast, flexible, scalable and cost-effective.

We’re built for flexibility
But it’s not just our architecture that’s designed for change. Our functionality has also been built to anticipate the shifting needs of our clients, giving them the flexibility to build their business as they wish.

For example, we’re the only platform technology provider in the market to allow firms to manage advised and direct or execution only clients on a single platform.

Advisers can switch individual clients from D2C to advised – or even choose to keep some of a client’s accounts execution only and the rest advised.

We’re fast and robust
Our fast, flexible and efficient structure means that firms of all sizes can shape the product development roadmap and request new features or functionality – to an extent that simply wouldn’t be possible with larger, more traditional software providers.

But our speed and agility comes with robustness and longevity, too. In 2019, Seccl was acquired by the Octopus Group – giving us the firepower to achieve our mission.

Organisational overview

Group structure

Seccl is part of the Octopus Group.

Corporate overview

Corporate overview

Seccl is part of the Octopus Group. Founded in 2000, Octopus is one of the UK’s fastest-growing companies, operating in two sectors – financial services and energy.

Today the Octopus Group has over 1.5 million customers across its financial services and energy supply operations, and manages approximately £10.1bn in assets (March 2021).

Octopus Capital is the ultimate parent company of the Octopus Group. Octopus Platform Holdings is a wholly-owned subsidiary. Both companies are registered at 33 Holborn, London, EC1N 2HT.

Seccl Technology Limited – a subsidiary of Octopus Platform Holdings – owns and operates bespoke technology for advisers, wealth managers and DFMs.

Seccl Custody Limited – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Seccl Technology Limited – is a firm authorised and regulated by the FCA to provide custody services.

It has two wholly-owned subsidiaries: Digital Custody Nominees Limited, a non-trading nominee company; and Digital Pension Trustees Limited, a non-trading company set up to provide a Trustee for Seccl’s potential future pension offering.

Seccl Technology Limited and its subsidiaries are all registered at 20 Manvers Street, Bath, BA1 1JW.

Octopus: a snapshot

Octopus was founded in 2000, has 783 staff, 2.2m customers, manages £12.5bn and holds balance sheet equity of £258m

Governance structure

Governance structure

Executive team

David Ferguson, CEO

David joined Seccl as CEO in April 2022.

He is massively excited to lead a team with great energy for change and a positive, relevant culture at a time when doing the right thing (in the right way) has never been more important.

He was previously founder and CEO of Nucleus, where he created a distinctive and customer-led culture which drove the investment platform from start-up to £20bn in AUA when he departed.

David Harvey, Co-founder

David founded Seccl alongside Hugo.

His experiences with existing software models, which are typically between 15 and 30 years old, led him to conclude that he could dramatically improve upon current solutions (none of which were built for the current market place) through innovative architecture, APIs and cloud hosting.

Hugo Thorman, Co-founder

Hugo founded Seccl alongside David. Formerly Hugo was Chief Executive of the Ascentric Wrap Platform which he launched in 2007 and grew to £9.7bn of assets. Before that he was Chairman of James Hay, launching the James Hay Platform in 2003.

Having previously worked together, Hugo shares David’s views about the potential for technological improvement, and the opportunity to reduce costs and attract business through enhanced integration and flexibility.

Ruth Handcock, Chair

Ruth is Chair of Seccl. As CEO of Octopus Investments, she focuses on harnessing technology to improve access to financial services and financial advice.

So far in her career, Ruth has had fourteen jobs: newspaper deliverer, car washer, checkout operative, factory salad chopper (night shift), receptionist, lab technician, editor, consultant, government adviser, COO, finance director, chief of staff, head of customer and CEO.

Regulatory status

FCA permissions

Seccl Custody Limited is a firm authorised and regulated by the FCA, firm reference number 793200. The firm gained its regulatory permissions in July 2018.

Seccl Custody Limited has the following FCA permissions:

Outsourced custody and client money

Seccl provides outsourced custody of all client assets via its non-trading, dormant nominee company, Digital Custody Nominees Limited.

All client money is held in a separate client money account with a PRA-regulated bank.

Financial Services Compensation Scheme Investors may be eligible to claim compensation from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), in the unlikely event that one of the banks Seccl uses to hold client money were to become insolvent.

The FSCS also offers protection for assets held in custody.

Regulatory capital

As an FCA regulated, IFPRU 125k entity, Seccl Custody Limited must adhere to the capital adequacy regime. Seccl’s capital position provides a suitable buffer over and above its regulatory requirement and the business plan is built to ensure this position holds through the Company’s growth.

At an ultimate parent company level, the Octopus Group had approximately £258m of balance sheet equity as at April 2020.

Since its regulatory capital requirement is £35.38m, it holds 635% of that figure, with a capital excess of £222.94m.

Seccl’s ICAAP currently prescribes that capital of £381k must be held to satisfy its regulatory requirements. As at 31st March 2021 Seccl Custody Limited held capital of £647k.

Systems, controls and data security

Systems & controls

Seccl Custody has been live for 2.5 years operating a custody service for retail clients.

As with the approach adopted to building technology, the service was created from scratch.

The proposition was defined specifically to allow it to scale with automation, and to minimise manual and paper-based processes which creates risk of human error.

To support this, a suite of controls have been built by reviewing the CASS regulations from first principles, specifically with the mindset of digital-led service offering.

Business continuity: serverless scalability & resilience

Our infrastructure is set up to be highly scalable and provide industry-leading resilience.

We are mainly serverless with Amazon Web Services, which we believe puts us in the strongest possible position for instantaneous scalability, as well as providing security and resilience.

Our serverless environment means we automatically scale up and down as demand is placed on the system. There is no provisioning of new hardware to cope with that.

Data security and financial crime

Our approach to data security provides, we believe, a world class level of security.

From a server perspective we use AWS and rely on the security built into that system.

We also create a specific instance of our database (Mongo DB) for each client to ensure no aggregation of data across multiple firms.

To ensure risks around data security and financial crime are mitigated, robust Information Security and AML policies have also been implemented.

Auditors

Moore Stephens conducted the audit of Seccl Technology Limited’s and Seccl Custody Limited’s financial statements for the period ended 31st December 2018 – as well as the CASS Audit for Seccl Custody, for the same period.

Audits were conducted in January 2019 and 2020 with no adverse findings.

Seccl’s legal counsel is provided by CMS.

Insurance

Seccl’s Professional Indemnity insurance policy is provided by Markel, delivering cover of £5 million in the aggregate.

Policy documents

The following documents are available online at seccl.tech:

While we will happily provide the following documents upon request:

Pricing

For full details of our pricing – and to use our interactive pricing calculator – head to our pricing page.

Key partners

Key partners

Availability, access and support

User interfaces

Seccl has developed two intuitive, feature-rich user interfaces:

Availability

Except for any scheduled downtime, our intuitive, easy-to-use user interfaces are available all day, every day.

Our standard support hours are 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Hierarchy

Seccl’s data architecture allows platform operators to establish a hierarchy of different account levels within their system.

Each level – or ‘node’, as we call it – can have their own branding, content, fee structure and users associated with it.

This allows platform operators to create different business streams, more easily distribute the platform to other firms create different business streams, or to segregate their own platform into different client banks.

Access permissions

Seccl’s platform technology has been designed to allow for the creation of users with different levels of permissions and data access.

Creating new users, and managing their permissions, can be quickly and easily done from within the Professional UI.

Specialist onboarding

Choosing to operate your own platform is a big step.

While it can bring huge benefits for clients and businesses alike, there’s no getting away from the significance of the change – not just to a firm’s technology systems, but to its organisational structure and responsibilities, too.

To guide you through the journey, we pair all new clients with a dedicated account manager.

Working on a quasi-secondment basis, this individual (or team, depending on the complexity of the project) will be responsible for overseeing your transition – helping you to set up your technology and train your team.

Ongoing support

We will provide a rich bank of online FAQs, tutorials and user guides, to help new or returning users find their way around their platform.

And our client support staff are on hand to help tackle any issues that require more dedicated support.

We will aim to respond to all queries within two business hours – and resolve all live client issues within 24 hours.

In time, we will also publish our product development roadmap and allow customers to easily make and prioritise feature requests.

Putting you in control

Seccl’s technology isn’t designed to provide a simply ‘white labelled’ platform offering.

Instead, our solution empowers businesses to own and shape the customer journey from start to finish.

Significantly, this means that your clients sign terms and conditions with you, the platform operator, not us.

As a result, if in the unlikely event that you ever thought to replace our underlying services (though we hope you won’t want to), you could do so without your clients’ approval, and with much less disruption.

And, needless to say, we will never market to your clients.

We want to empower a new generation of forward-thinking financial planners, advisers and investment managers to give the next level of service to their clients.

By putting you in control of your own platform, our technology aims to do just that.

Questions?

If you want to find out more about Seccl, take a look at our demo videos.

Alternatively, don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’d be happy to arrange an introductory call.

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