Delta Financial Systems

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Delta Financial Systems's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Delta Financial Systems is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Michael Power, CEO
Platinum~Pro on devices
Founded in 1996 by Michael Power (CEO) and Brian Hurl
(product development director), Delta Financial Systems
Limited is a Birmingham-based owner-managed company
that is engaged in the development and supply of specialist
software to the UK lifetime savings industry. Their business
philosophy is to devote their knowledge, talent and technology
to create superior solutions that enable pension providers to
enhance the financial security of their clients.
Across our client base of life offices, retail banks, wealth managers and specialist
trustee companies our systems manage over 200,000 pension scheme members
and £40 billion “assets under administration”. Indeed, we have an unrivalled 20-
year track record of maintaining our two core solutions, SIPP~Pro and SSAS~Pro,
which comprehensively fulfil the administrative, professional and regulatory
requirements of pension providers.
Key to Delta’s success is applying the breadth and depth of our team’s pensions
knowledge and technology skills to design robust and resilient solutions that drive
operational efficiencies with the highest levels of governance.
iFreedom, a digital solution for pension freedom
In the last two decades Delta has established itself as the leading supplier of
database and illustration systems to the UK self-invested pensions market.
During this period our primary challenge has been managing constant changes
to the myriad of complex business rules regulated by HMRC, the Department for
Work&Pensions and the Financial Conduct Authority.
»CEO: Michael Power
»Product development director:
Brian Hurl
»Established in 1996
»Based in Birmingham
»Services: Development and
supply of specialist software
for the UK lifetime savings
»No. of employees: 60
»Blue-chip client base including
banks, life offices, wealth
»Apprentice Employer of the
Year 2011 & 2016
»Over 70 system
ȣ40 billion assets under
»200,000 scheme members
Delta Financial
Highlighting best practice
Ironically the most radical change that
the UK savings industry has witnessed
for a generation, the introduction of
“pension freedom” in 2015, required
relatively modest enhancements to our
solutions. The reason for this was that
income drawdown has always been a
key feature of self-invested pensions
(SIPPs and SSASs) and is therefore
very much in Delta’s DNA and a key
component of our product proposition.
By opening drawdown to all pension
savers and creating a mass market for
what is a complex product for many,
Delta’s latest challenge has been to
deliver iFreedom, our digital solution
accessible across multiple devices,
that will empower consumers to
make informed decisions and securely
manage their savings through access
to real-time scheme data and intuitive
self-servicing to initiate investment and
income instructions.
To enable our clients to deliver the
appropriate low-cost products that are
expected by the regulators, we have
designed iFreedom to be tightly coupled
with the application programming
interface (API) of our back-end
administration system, Platinum~Pro,
thereby driving operational efficiencies
through automation and straight-
through processing.
Transformational technology for
a changing savings landscape
The socio-economic and cultural shift
that pension freedom represents
should not be underestimated.
Previously, retiring members of defined
contribution schemes were required
to purchase an annuity with their
pension fund. Until 2015 governments
enforced a social contract whereby, in
exchange for a range of tax incentives,
retiring pension scheme members had
no other choice than the compulsory
purchase of an annuity.
While annuities have the unique
benefit of a guaranteed income
for life, they have fundamental
disadvantages – principally losing
control of a significant capital sum
and, in the last ten years, historically
low annuity rates resulting from a
combination of increasing longevity
and low interest rates. Prior to pension
freedom, £11 billion of pension funds
were transferred into annuities on
an annual basis – this figure has now
fallen to £4billion per annum.
Now, however, savers from the age of
55 can keep control of the investment
of their pension fund while taking
benefits at the same time. They can
choose when to draw down from their
fund, by how much, in what structure
(lump sum or income) and at what
frequency. Furthermore, on death the
remaining fund can be passed on to the
member’s estate free of inheritancetax.
A key strength of Delta’s wide-ranging
pension capabilities is that our systems
enable product providers (our clients)
to manage the full life-cycle of pension
administration, including the:
»accumulation phase, involving the
payment of contributions within annual
allowances, claiming the associated
tax relief on individual contributions
from HMRC, and managing transfer
values from other schemes;
»ongoing investment across a wide
range of permissible asset classes,
including cash, equities, gilts, collective
funds and commercial property;
»decumulation phase, involving
crystallising funds to pay lump sums
and income, managing tax liabilities
including PAYE on pension income
and LTA charges, and monitoring
the split between uncrystallised and
crystallised funds.
Underpinning these capabilities is a
robust and resilient set of integration
components with banking systems,
investment platforms and the
Government Gateway online services.
In recognition of SIPPs moving from
niche to the product of choice for
defined contribution pensions, we
iFreedom mobile
drawdown is
very much in
Delta’s DNA
and a key
component of
our product
have invested £9million over the last
five years to coalesce our systems
into Platinum~Pro – a single modern
technology platform based on the
“API first” principle and an integrated
network of relationships, interfaces
and processes that will facilitate
long-term business growth for our
clients who demand operational
efficiencies delivered by resilient
integrated solutions and underpinned
by robust governance. Platinum~Pro
can administer a wide range of savings
products (pensions, ISAs, workplace
schemes and income drawdown) that
are either advised or direct to consumer.
While all of this investment has been
self-funded, we have also been
successful in claiming R&D tax relief as
approved by HMRC for advancements
in science and technology.
Another critical success factor in this
re-platforming exercise has been our
commitment to the Agile manifesto. We
adopted Scrum in 2013 and through
continuous iterations and improvement
we are confident in our prescribed
methodologies as to “how we work”.
As an example, quality is underpinned
through test-driven development
that has now produced over 30,000
automated tests that are run each time
our developers check in code. This
means regression issues are identified
and resolved in real time. Furthermore,
as a Microsoft Gold Partner we have
access to a wide range of cutting-edge
development and testing tools and
based on Azure we now have a SaaS
(Software as a Service) offering.
With the advent of pension freedom,
we are very much on a growth journey
and in preparation we have doubled
our development team over 2018.
Our central Birmingham location is
critical to recruiting quality full-time
employees and this is supplemented
by our commitment to our Microsoft
apprentice programme that has
allowed us to successfully increase our
workforce with qualified apprentices
by 10 per cent.
There can be no doubt that pension
scheme providers, be they retail or
workplace, urgently need low-cost
scalable solutions to deliver pension
freedom to their members. Our
proposition is to deploy iFreedom as
a cloud-hosted managed service with
a tightly coupled integration model
that delivers regulatory governance,
operational efficiencies and empowers
end users.
iFreedom is unique in that it sits at
the intersection of digital, fintech and
regtech. In this respect and in an age
of technology disruption, we see Delta
as a tech start-up with a 20-year-old
track record.
iFreedom will
consumers to
decisions and
manage their
Glossary of terms
» Earmarking all or
part if the pension
fund for taking a
lump sum and/or
income drawdown
Defined contribution
» Umbrella term for
schemes based
on building a
pension fund via
the investment
of individual
and employer
lump sum
» The option to take
25 per cent lump
sum (currently
tax free) when
crystallising all or part
of a pension fund
» Self-invested pension
plan: a personal
arrangement with
a wide range
of permitted
investments including
equities, gilts, collective
funds and commercial
» Small self-administered
scheme: an
employer sponsored
(occupational) scheme,
normally with 12
or fewer members.
Similar to SIPPs from an
investment perspective
but the assets are
technically not
earmarked to individual

This article was sponsored by Delta Financial Systems. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister