So far in this series, among other topics, we have looked at why more than £800m is set to be spent on re-platforming and why current projects have so far incurred average delays of more than 12 months. So, asks Tom Ellis, how prepared are platforms and their workforces to move hundreds of billions worth of client assets to new technology and complete these re-platforming projects?
While the sector's experience has not been reflected in platforms' ability to avoid project delays, the lang cat market analysis manager Terry Huddart says the industry is learning from its mistakes and will ultimately be successful.
"As more of these major platform upgrades have been happening over the years, the collective experience of those in the industry delivering the projects is growing with it," he explains.
"I expect to this to be reflected in how well they are ultimately delivered, it's just human nature that lessons are learned. The sector is a village, so both permanent and contract staff move about platforms sharing experience around."
While Huddart believes the collective experience of the industry has grown over the years, Nucleus' Barry Neilson reckons any staff turnover during lengthy re-platforming can be disruptive. He also questions the amount of CVs with relevant experience.
"The platform marketplace is still maturing and there isn't a huge pool of individuals that have deep experience of carrying out this scale of migration project," says the Nucleus business development director. "This relative level of inexperience could impact the delivery efficiency and therefore also be a factor in driving up the costs of these projects."
However, while internal teams are crucial to the success and fluidity of re-platforming projects, Huddart says the use of big consultancies can determine the quality of a project - as well as its cost.
He says: "I see little correlation between the success and speed of delivery, between those that throw huge sums at that tactic and those that don't; and some of these sums are eye-watering.
"You always have to hire in some external expertise for projects of this magnitude, but one thing I would question is the value for money that some platforms have been getting."
While Huddart and Neilson seem split on the merits of the collective asset migration experience of the sector, the lang cat founder and principal Mark Polson pointed out to Professional Adviser in January that no-one had undertaken a project as big as combining Cofunds and Aegon onto a new platform.
Although Polson singled out its COO Richard Denning and the platform's team as an experienced group, he did so with the caveat nobody had previously overseen such a large asset migration.
Although not all other re-platforming projects in the market will be as large as this one it suggests the market could still have some learning to do across the board.
He said: "They don't have the experience of moving tens of billions in the way that's going to happen from Cofunds - but nobody has that. Nobody's done it on this scale before."
What the platforms say
Asked what experience their respective re-platforming teams have of undertaking similar mass asset migration projects, this is what the current re-platforming cohort had to say …
"We have a substantial team who know the systems we're using inside out and the platform is based on some of the most modern technology in the market.
"We also have significant experience of upgrading customers having so far moved 300,000 customers to our platform through a similar process."
Alliance Trust Savings
"The ATS team, in general, has a wealth of experience in platforms, gained both internally and externally and at all levels.
"As we currently run three platforms, there is already an inherent, in-depth understanding of how platforms work, the key differences and the difficulties presented by re-platforming."
"We have an experienced team working on the project, from both within and outside of the business, with considerable experience in delivering similar projects.
"Many of the team have worked on similar, large scale and high-profile technology migration projects, for example, HBOS to Lloyds."
"Across the project we have a number of people who have experience of similar migration projects, both within Aviva and with other companies.
"We have more than 100 people working on the project across a broad range of workstreams including [but not limited to] platform build, propositions, marketing and communications, migration, user interface/journeys, operational processes, and business readiness."
Old Mutual Wealth
"We have brought in expert external programme assurers and we have strengthened management overseeing the programme. We will be working closely with [new technology provider] FNZ who have refined their methodology over the course of the many implementations they have completed to date."
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