Financial services giant American Express has launched a wrap platform for UK intermediaries, but says only those IFAs that fit its user-profile will be invited to the party.
The reason is Amex wants to target intermediaries it believes will be "dominant" in future, with a focus on wealth management, high net worth clients, and a good approach to regulatory matters says Jamsheed Poncha, head of adviser service at American Express Financial.
"This is a niche-driven business model. We are not in the numbers game."
Therefore, there will be no blanket road shows or mailshots to IFAs pushing the platform.
Additionally, the platform offer will be agnostic on the question of independence, Poncha says.
It will not take sides regarding IFAs defined as "independent" as per de-polarisation proposals, as compared to the prevalence of multi-tie operations many expect could become the norm.
"We leave the adviser to decide that," Poncha says.
"What the platform does is react to the regulatory push for greater transparency."
This includes leveraging off pensions simplification proposals, he adds.
The platform, derived from the one acquired through the £30m purchase of online stockbroker Sharepeople in late 2000, provides access to some 900 funds from 34 investment houses.
The technology should result in more consumer choice, with the ability for advisers using the system to mix fees-based and commissions-based clients. It is prepared for the menu, Poncha says.
Amex is launching its platform offer with the ability to handle cash, equities, funds, and ISAs and PEPs, while pensions will follow later this year.
The platform itself does not mark the end of Amex’ involvement in providing services to intermediaries. Other services are planned, which will focus on driving down IFAs’ operating costs, although Poncha says he cannot comment just yet on what those services might be.
American Express acquired Threadneedle Asset Management for £340m in cash from Zurich Financial Services last October.IFAonline
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