This article, which was updated on April 12, 2023, is a review of Ardan International.
We will talk about the pluses and minuses of this platform and tell you why it isn’t a good idea to buy in 2023.
This article will also focus on the positives and negatives for financial advisors and clients alike.
If you are looking to invest in better alternatives, or want a second opinion, you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or use the chat function below.
You can also apply for my services here, if you are an expat or high-net-worth individual.
As the facts change over time, we will try to update this article, but we can’t always alter facts instantly.
Decisions about whether to go ahead with Ardan should not be made based on this article alone.
First, what is Ardan International?
Ardan International is based in the Isle of Man and is a unit of investment, savings and protection services provider International Financial Group Ltd. (IFGL).
Who has access to the Ardan International platform?
The wealth management platform offered by Ardan International can be utilized by expats, trustees, and corporate bodies located in any part of the world. This platform was developed with investors based in other countries in mind specifically.
Because it is versatile, it can be put to use in a variety of ways to consolidate all of one’s investments into a single location.
Clients who do not wish to keep their money in a bank account for an extended period of time and who are living abroad will find this service to be very convenient.
The question is whether Ardan is a good alternative to the other options out there.
Does it mean I can trade on my own using the Ardan International platform?
Since Ardan is a wealth management platform that is led by advisers, only authorized individuals working for adviser firms have the ability to execute trades on Ardan International.
Where is the platform sold?
Worldwide, but typically in expat-focused areas such as Dubai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brussels, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Qatar and various other locations.
What are the investment options available on the platform?
Over 80,000 funds are available on the Ardan International platform, alongside countless currencies, from Euro to USD and Japanese Yen. Equities, structured notes and a range of other investment options are available on the platform.
What are the costs of the Ardan International platform?
The custody fee is 0.4% per year. They have also removed minimum fees, which should be good for smaller accounts.
However, there are extra fees such as:
- Fund fees
- Advisor fees
- Sometimes hidden fees that aren’t easy to spot – for example on structured notes.
Whilst Ardan’s fee structure is competitive on smaller accounts, it often isn’t on medium and especially larger amounts, when you factor in the above considerations.
Why should financial advisers use the Ardan International platform?
Even though I think potential clients should consider superior alternative options, there are many positives for financial advisors and wealth managers.
According to Ardan International, it makes no difference whether your customers are individuals, trustees, or corporate entities; the platform can accommodate all of them. Each one has the capacity to hold multiple portfolios.
Besides, the open architecture of the Ardan International platform enables investors to hold a variety of assets, including funds, structured notes, and tradeable assets, such as equities and exchange -traded funds (ETFs). Because you are able to keep everything in the same location, it is simple to get an overall picture of the wealth of your customers.
You have the option of either setting up, monitoring, and trading your client base’s Model Portfolios by yourself or outsourcing these responsibilities to a third-party discretionary fund manager. Your time will be freed up, and the management of the portfolios you manage for your clients will become much easier and more effective.
You have the ability to control the level of access that your customers are granted to the platform, and your customers have the ability to configure the platform in a manner that is tailored to your particular methods of conducting business.
Ardan International also said that you’ll have the ability to hold investments denominated in a variety of currencies. You are able to trade currencies online, hold cash in a number of different currencies, invest in a wide variety of currencies, change the base currency of the platform at any time, and switch between holding cash in multiple currencies. So, it’s really ideal for the investor who is able to move freely across international borders.
Besides, the Ardan International platform enables you to operate a fee-based charging model that is completely transparent, which is extremely useful in a world where regulations are continually being tightened.
The value of assets held on platforms in the United Kingdom increased almost sixfold in the eight years after the rollout of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) in 2008, demonstrating that platforms function effectively in environments in which regulations promote increased transparency.
The bigger question is whether the platform is good for the client.
When are adviser fees paid out?
The fees for the advisers are paid on a monthly basis, typically on the 10th of every month for any and all transactions that occurred during the preceding month.
Are my funds protected if I choose Ardan International?
Ardan International safeguards the financial assets of its customers by storing them in separate accounts held at a variety of the world’s most reputable financial institutions.
Client funds that are segregated are kept completely separate from Ardan International’s operating accounts and are held in the name of the respective clients.
In the extremely unlikely event that Ardan International goes into default on its obligations, the client money will be handed back to the customers instead of being handled as a reclaimable asset by the general creditors of the company.
When money is transferred from a particular customer to Ardan International, those funds will be directly collected into a separate client money bank account at one of the major financial institutions that Ardan International has chosen.
Ardan International, in its capacity as a global custodian, is tasked with the duty of protecting assets and, as such, takes all of the reasonable precautions necessary for the detection and avoidance of fraud, error, or non-compliance with any laws and regulations that apply. There is no obligation placed on Ardan International to select investments or determine their value in any way.
With that being said, most major life insurance and investment platforms are just as safe these days.
Is there a minimum amount of cash that needs to be maintained with Ardan International?
To cover transaction costs, a cash retention equal to three percent of the base currency must be maintained at all times.
There’s a trade status on the platform, what does it mean?
A pending authorization status is a position that indicates that Ardan International has not yet received the trade because it is waiting for it to be authorized first.
The status could also be placed, which means that the dealing team within Ardan have successfully positioned the trade with a counter-party.
Lastly, there’s the completed status which just means that the trade has been finalized and that the contract note has been obtained as well as uploaded into the system.
So, what are the main positives associated with this option?
The main positives are:
- The platform does allow for segregated accounts, meaning the money is held separately from Ardan’s accounts and is in the client’s name.
- The costs are relatively good (not the best – more on that later), and the platform uses good technology to reduce paperwork.
- There are no fees for getting out of the platform.
- The paperwork requirements and admin aren’t too bad.
- For smaller amounts, this can be a good option. For larger accounts, the 0.40% fee becomes a bigger deal, as does the relative lack of alternative assets and diversification options compared to other investment platforms.
- They do have an interesting partnership with Lloyds Bank and fixed-term deposits. However, there are better fixed-return options on the market.
What are the negatives of the platform?
The main negatives are:
- The platform can be used well, but all too often many complicated and expensive products are chosen. That increases costs and lowers returns.
- The platform is quite restrictive about which investments can be chosen, compared to some other options out there. That isn’t ideal for people who want enhanced investment options and high net wealth solutions. In an era of low real interest and government bond rates, asset diversification beyond the obvious options is vitally important.
- Almost all the positives associated with this option can be obtained elsewhere, without the restrictions on investment options.
- On the surface it looks very cheap, but if you add in adviser fees, sometimes it isn’t.
- Like with all adviser-lead platforms, you are dependent on the adviser’s competence much more than the platform itself. In fairness, this isn’t a negative about Ardan per see, but more something which becomes an issue for those who pick the wrong adviser. Too many advisers pick very sterile Undertaking for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCIT) funds and structured notes.
- Many advisers selling this focus on the wrong things. For example, the Isle of Man domicile is no better or worse than Puerto Rico, Luxembourg, Bermuda and all the other major offshore financial centers. All major platforms have their own checks and balances now, and the Isle of Man domicile (and associated “90% government guarantee of deposits”) isn’t as good as it sounds. With all the major providers, you don’t need to worry about the platform going out of business.
- Often the last point is especially overused with British expat clients. Being from the UK myself, clearly the Isle of Man feels “closer” to home, which gives an emotional security. In reality, some of my South African clients prefer Mauritius, and mainland European Luxembourg, for the same reason. Ditto some Latin Americans and Puerto Rico. Often this is just familiarity bias.
- Ardan International is now part of a larger group, which means you are always in danger of being treated like customer number 43,505. Usually, platforms which are big enough to be credible but small enough to be boutique give better service to advisers and clients alike, just as boutique hotels often beat chains.
- When bought in conjunction with self-invested personal pensions (SIPPS) and Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) accounts, the excessive fees and restrictions on asset classes are rarely conducive to good returns.
- In April 2023, I was approached in a threatening and bullying manner by a senior member of Ardan’s staff, who wanted this page taken down. Given how the review also focuses on the positives associated with the platform, this is a very unprofessional approach. It also made me think about how Ardan would deal with a client compliant.
Are most people happy with this platform?
I have met clients that are happy and those that aren’t. In general, your mileage will vary.
A lot of your returns will depend on how your account is managed, which is why it is important to use a professional broker.
What about the current market given the aftermath of the world-wide pandemic?
Stock markets declined rapidly during February and March 2020, due to the reaction of governments to the global health pandemic brought by COVID-19.
Markets came back, but have fallen again in 2022, with 2023 looking uncertain.
Markets will come back and valuations are very cheap these days – which is great for the long-term investor.
So, the current situation shouldn’t be an issue for the long-term investor. With that being said, it doesn’t make sense for the average investor to be 100% in the stock markets forever.
That is why asset diversification is important. The lack of loan notes, private investments and quality hedge funds on this platform is one of the main negatives.
What can you do if you have an Ardan International plan?
If you have an Ardan plan, don’t hesitate to contact me via email@example.com or apply for my services here.
Ardan International Review: The Bottom Line
Ardan isn’t an awful platform and there are positives for financial advisors to use them.
For smaller account holders, it can make sense to go ahead, in some situations.
However, for most clients, superior alternatives exist, with fewer restrictions on asset classes. This is especially the case for high-net-worth individuals.
Given the unprofessional communication methods referenced in this article, I would also be more skeptical in 2023, than in previous years.
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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 694.5 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.