A total of 70% of advisers believe using a single platform will not jeopardize their independent status but a quarter still need to be convinced, according to Defaqto's annual review of the UK platform and wrap market.
Defaqto says the advisers who remain concerned could be confused by the lack of clarity from the FSA on the issue of independence when using platforms.
Martin Bamford, director at Informed Choice, says the platforms/independence issue is a grey area.
"I think there are multi-levels of independence but for a platform specialist there are only two that matter, one being the tax wrapper and one being the underlying structure of funds," he says.
"Most of the platforms I am aware of satisfy the second, they offer access to a sufficient wider range of funds so you can continue playing with independence. They are a bit weak on the first and the only one I can think that has got round this is Ascentric."
"It all depends on your definition of independence and also depends on your view of where that is going in the future - the RDR will have an impact on this," he adds.
The review also revealed IFAs are beginning to recognise the benefits of engaging with wrap technology with three quarters of the 500 advisers surveyed saying they are currently using platforms to conduct investment business.
Over a third are conducting over 50% of their investment business via a platform, whilst 68% are using one to two platforms. For more finding see page 25.
FSA guidance on advisers' independence status when using platforms
June 2007: The FSA's discussion paper 'DP07/2 - Platforms: the role of wraps and fund supermarkets'discussed the issue of giving independent advice when using platforms. The paper gave a clear 'no' to the question of whether IFAs would be automatically penalised if they placed large volumes of business through a single platform.
However, reaction from IFAs was mixed with some disappointed the FSA had not gone further to build the confidence of advisers wanting to describe their services as independent, while using a single platform.
The mixed reaction led to the FSA opening the subject up for discussion amongst advisers.
March 2008: A feedback statement produced by the FSA stated respondents generally felt the FSA had taken a pragmatic approach to the subject and said no further action was required in the short term.
February 2009: The FSA produced a factsheet for small firms explaining what it means when it refers to platforms and what to consider when adopting and using platforms. The factsheet can be found at http://www.fsa.gov.uk/smallfirms/resources/factsheets/pdfs/factsheet_wraps.pdf
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