There is only one rule with platforms: there are no rules. Well, sort of.
Amid all the talk about whether an independent adviser can use a single platform for most – or, Heaven forbid, all – of his or her clients, a bit of clarity has been lost.
So, here (I hope) it is: you can use a single provider for every bit of on-platform business you ever write, and still be independent – so long (and this would be the tricky bit) as you can make the case that it was always the most suitable arrangement for your clients.
Let’s go further: you could, theoretically, recommend the same fund on the same platform every time and continue to wear the IFA badge, if you could show it was the best route for the client on each occasion (though this would, I’ll admit, represent a fairly extraordinary client bank).
There is only one rule with platforms: there are no rules...
Suitability trumps all. Your use of platforms is all about carrying out, and recording, proper, regular due diligence. Maybe the same platform does keep cropping up. That’s fine. But expect to argue your case if the regulator or your accredited body come calling.
In many ways, this should be the goal of the big platform providers: to offer the broadest range of products, to be the cheapest and most reliable, that they tend to come out top of most platform suitability reports.
The Financial Services Authority (FSA), by the way, believes it would be “very rare, if possible at all”, for a firm to use a single platform for most of its clients and retain its independence. Of course it does – no two investors ever have identical needs.
But that does not mean it isn’t possible for one platform to come top of your list every time you deal with a particular (and probably fairly narrow) set of circumstances.
Editor, Professional Adviser and IFAonline.co.uk
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