With platforms being a market that has seen significant growth in the last five years, doubling from £250bn to £500bn assets under administration (AUA), with more customers than ever deciding to use a platform to manage their money, what do we think about the FCA's proposed remedies to improve competition? Is it encouraging that the FCA has recognised the important role of platforms in the value chain? How can the market truly deliver the benefits it is intended to provide? What do you want from a platform – a transactional hands-off relationship or a long-term, deeper relationship with a business that can offer practice management support for the growth of your business for the benefit of your client? Platforms hold a huge amount of data on fund flows, contribution levels, withdrawals, dividend reinvestment, cash management etc – and are uniquely placed to see trends across clients at an aggregate level across all advisers within your business, all advisers in your region and across all advisers using the platform –in total – what value might this platform insight be of to you as a business owner and for your advisers and paraplanners?
- Many firms are reviewing their Platform partner.
- Choose a Primary Platform.
- Few Platforms are profitable so who will survive?
- What is an acceptable Platform charge and who should pay it?
Key issues and challenges:
- Platform due diligence
- Migration of Clients from one Platform to another
- Platforms keeping up to date with improvements in technology
- Limited access to the Data held on Platforms
- Poor integrations with third parties
Conclusions and solutions:
- The lack of profitability within the Platform market is a concern and is why they are so resistant to reducing their charges, despite the pressure to do so. The recent disastrous Platform client migrations have highlighted the problem of moving from one Platform to another. Therefore, reducing the cost of a Platform could create chaos.
- It was accepted that there is an enormous range of Platform charges, not always transparent, but as they need to continue to charge to try and become profitable, should price be a major concern. Platforms need to provide what they say they will do and if possible, provide excellent integrations with third parties. It was felt that offering third party integrations should not be considered to be an incentive.
- The consensus was that the Fund Management Groups should pay the Platform charges – particularly as they are not paying for distribution. It was noted that the largest Platform in Europe charges on this basis.
- All Data held by the Platforms should be made available to firms.
- It was felt that the Regulator has been wrong in considering Platforms as a regulated product, they are a technology service providing access to regulated products. Using just one Platform should be acceptable providing it is suitable for the Client.
Expert: Darren Lowry - Nucleus
Facilitator: Paul Miles - Silverback Consultancy