The regulator has identified re-registration as a potential problem area for platforms. Henry Brennan asks if enough is being done to eliminate delays between assets transfers.
While the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has recognised the positive progress the industry has made following April's platform paper it has pointed out one area which still needs work - re-registration.
Speaking at the Tax Incentivised Savings Association (TISA) platform seminar the FCA's Richard Taylor said that, barring this one area, fund managers and platform providers have kept pace with the requirements laid out in the regulator's platform white paper.
But despite all the positives re-registration can't be overlooked. Taylor, the watchdog's Retail Distribution Review (RDR) team manager, said progress in this region had been "less than satisfactory".
Are platforms doing enough to speed up re-reg?
Re-registration - the transfer of assets from platform to platform - is a compulsory measure platform providers are required to facilitate, albeit with more relaxed criteria than other areas of development.
Taylor noted that the issue of how long the process should take was left in the hands of providers, assuming it was "within a reasonable time".
"It is worth observing that different people have different concept of reasonable time", said Taylor before announcing the regulator would examine the results of the post-implementation review work in order to determine whether a prescriptive timeframe is required.
However, not everyone shares the opinion that progress has been unreasonably sluggish.
Statistics compiled by software provider Altus suggests there are areas where quite considerable progress has been made and there is evidence that an increasingly large number are voluntarily adopting procedures designed to speed up transfer times.
Manual re-registration is a compulsory requirement, while automatic re-registration is not. Electronic re-registration takes an average of between two and five working days, making it about six times faster than manual.
Alliance Trust Savings, Aviva, Zurich, Nucleus, AJ Bell, Skandia, Fidelity FundsNetwork and Axa Elevate are among those providers who have voluntarily opted for an electronic service.
By the end of September 14 platforms representing just over 80% of the assets under administration and 38 fund managers representing 75% of UK funds under management were operating live electronic account transfers and fund re-registrations.
Altus product director Ben Cocks said: "While the FCA is right to stress the urgency of the need for those firms who are yet to sign up to make progress with re-registration, we have recently witnessed a significant growth in the number of platforms, fund managers, suppliers and volumes of automated transfers which is good for the industry and the consumer."
If problems still remain, there is scope for one more voluntary measures to be introduced but it falls to the fund houses to implement it.
Zurich head of retail wealth propositions Mark Peters said fund managers could facilitate re-registration in certain cases.
In cases where there are differently priced assets between platforms which need to be transferred before re-registration, meaning either dirty share classes to clean, or clean to super clean, fund managers could play a more active role.
Currently, platforms are required to hold retail share classes for the purposes of re-registration in these cases. If fund managers were to make this switch themselves, the process could stand to be completed quicker.
Re-registration does appear to be an area which the industry has dedicated a lot of time and effort to improving. If the regulator does find cause for concern, imposing a maximum timeframe for completing the process would be a sensible solution. The evidence does suggest however the momentum is already there and things may continue to improve without further intervention.
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