Platforms have long been hailed as the next big thing for advisers. However, despite their huge success in markets such as Australia and South Africa, adviser response in the UK has been decidedly muted over the past few years. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes restrictions were placed on the funds advisers could invest in while other advisers pointed to a lack of transparency when it came to explaining fees etc. Advisers only tended to use old-style platforms to carry out transfers for things like ISAs and collectives so it seemed their use was limited.
However, times have changed and it would seem the tide is turning in platform's favour. Functionality has developed several fold as advisers are able to do so much more with platforms. Inheritance tax planning, detailed client reports and wider fund ranges are all available and enable advisers to give their clients more for their money. Processes that once took weeks now take days and advisers are also able to make valuable cost savings by streamlining their back office.
The advent of the retail distribution review could also be a catalyst for platform growth going forward. Advisers can more easily record the reasons behind the decisions they make and improve administration. Platforms would seem to be an important tool for advisers operating under these new conditions. In this issue of Retirement Planner we have a special section on the platform market which gives a case study on how platforms can be used to help clients (pages 25-30). We also have a feature on how adviser perception of the platform market is developing and gives some adviser feedback on the issues advisers should bear in mind when choosing a platform provider.
It will be interesting to look ahead say three or four years and see how much of an impact platforms are having on the market. Will they be firmly embedded at the heart of an adviser's business or will they continue to operate on the periphery of the industry? Only time will tell. However, research from CoreData Research UK seems to indicate that advisers are deciding to go down the platform route. Of the advisers surveyed 44.2% said they looked to start using platforms in the next six months. A further 10.4% said they would look to move onto a platform in the next 12 months and only 6.5% of advisers surveyed said they would never move to a wrap platform. So it would seem that times are changing and advisers are recognising the value platforms can bring to their clients and also to their business.
Users of Intelligent Office
44% do not think technology will solve problem
Still under-serviced area of sandbox
Equivalent to AUS$25m