In this week's tech review, Mark Polson takes a closer look at Plum Software, a back office system that polarises advisers.
Entirely without meaning to, the last couple of columns have started a theme on back office systems. We continue the theme this week with Plum Software.
Plum is an interesting proposition in lots of ways.
Its user numbers are a long way behind the ‘big two’ of Avelo and IntelliFlo and, in my asking around for this column, it seems to really polarise advisers.
Tech review: Mark Polson on Plum Software
Those against it bemoan usability, a dated look and feel, and a particular way of doing things which isn’t to their taste. Those for it praise the functionality, the technical knowledge of adviser businesses shown by the Plum team and the openness of the company.
We’ll come back to usability and so on in a little while. First, a few basics.
Plum comes in two flavours (insert your own plum joke here). You can buy a desktop license (which means the system runs on your machine and doesn’t rely on an internet connection) for £140 for the first license and £50 for subsequent licenses (all per month, plus tax). If you want the cloudy version, which doesn’t skulk around your hard drive, the costs pop up to £180 and £70.
Plum has a nice ‘concurrent user’ price policy: you could have, say, 15 users in your business but, if you know only ten of them will be using the system at any one time, you only need to buy ten licenses. In these days of flexible working and job shares, that could be a real saving.
Plum has been around since 1993 and has a uniting – and commanding – figure of continuity in the face of the redoubtable Ann Dempster.
Dempster is a fountain of knowledge about the in-depth working of adviser businesses and a particular expert on regulatory challenges.
We spoke as part of this review and she went into depth about how your Retail Mediation Activities Return (RMAR) needs figures expressed in percentages but traditional automated commission links into back office systems only pull through monetary amounts. It’s this grasp of detail which makes the advisers who do take the time to engage with Plum value it.
Usually, when a system wants to be featured in this column, it’s because they’ve got something new to promote – a bit like Fern Britton going on This Morning to promote her book, except better written and with fewer pictures of dancers.
Anyway, Plum has indeed been doing some work behind the scenes and so we should take a look at that.
This article continues…
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Reporting to Steve Hill
Appointed on 19 September