Cofunds has stressed its "loyalty" to the adviser sector following revelations it has been holding talks with Tesco Bank about a possible link-up with the supermarket giant's financial arm.
IFAonline understands Cofunds has been talking to Tesco Bank around a potential partnership which could see it provide technology to the direct-to-consumer service.
Sales and marketing director at Cofunds Alastair Conway says: "When we have news about developments at Cofunds we always communicate these to the market in an open and transparent way."
Conway adds: "We do not comment on individual contractual conversations but we have had a series of conversations with many organisations. Given our pedigree and the fact we are well established, profitable and have passed the core tests we would expect organisations to talk to us."
Revelations Cofunds has been holding talks with Tesco Bank come hot-on-the-heels of reports Moneysupermarket has also been in talks with the platform about developing an execution-only service.
Conway acknowledges market dynamics are creating more interest in the execution-only sphere.
"There have been a few more execution-only conversations because RDR is potentially driving some customers to deal on an execution-only basis," he says.
"Advisers themselves want some customers on an execution-only basis and lots of groups already have a diverse range of advice options for customers," he says.
But he stresses these "execuution-only conversations" in no way signal a change of direction for Cofunds and points out the platform has always had relationships with execution-only advisers.
"There is no shift in strategy - we have had around 20 execution advisers from day one," he says.
"Chelsea Financial Services and Bestinvest are some of our best, most loyal clients. We have always been in the market to support the execution-only market."
Cofunds' role, he adds, has always been the provision of services for distribution groups of "all shapes and sizes" - something the platform has been doing for the last ten years.
"But this does not mean less loyalty to advisers," says Conway.
But one adviser thinks Cofunds risks alienating the IFA community.
"If Cofunds starts providing tools to Tesco Bank this could cause certain IFAs to get uptight and worry the platform is turning its back on them," he says. "This could signal a change in approach and demonstrate the platform is now going for market share."
Tesco Bank was launched in 1997 as a joint venture between Tesco and the Royal Bank of Scotland, with Tesco acquiring the bank's shareholding in 2008. Its website says it has 6.5 million customer accounts across 28 products and services.
The bank sells its products through its online, telephone and in-store channels, with approximately 60% of new sales come through online.
A spokesperson from Tesco Bank would not comment on the Cofunds' discussions, saying the company does not comment on speculation.
Last month, Cofunds told direct to consumer partner Commfreefunds.com to remove aggressive marketing literature attempting to lure clients away from the platform with the promise of full commission rebates. Cofunds took action after several advisers voiced their concern to the platform.
Annuity market worth £4bn in 2017
Oversees £30bn of advised and D2C assets
£1bn business since inception
Considered doing so in 2015
Client communication considerations