The exciting ever changing world of platforms.
The current state of the UK platform market is as exciting as it’s been for a long while, and in our view there are some hugely significant changes taking place. Over recent weeks we have seen a number of platforms being rumoured as being up for sale, and a couple of interesting acquisitions on the asset management side. And just today Money Marketing are reporting that AJ Bell have entered into an exclusivity period with Cofunds. The platform market is a-changin!
But as ever the question advisers need to ask themselves is! “so what?” Even if you last reviewed your platform due diligence 12 months ago, and I suspect for a few advisers it will be a lot longer than that, the market is in a very different place. It is also highly likely that whoever your platform of choice is they have changed significantly from the last time you formally reviewed them, but “so what?” Is the current uncertainty for a number of big players a concern to advisers, or if not when does it become so? And if it is a concern, what should you do about it? It’s one thing stopping using a platform for new business, but an entirely different issue if you want to start moving existing clients off a platform. When does a change of ownership and/or direction become a problem? We’d love to hear adviser views on this subject.
As challenging as this might be platform suitability needn’t be rocket science. Client needs beat adviser needs with the needs of the provider coming a distant last. Advisers who select platforms based on client needs, and document how and why this decision was made rarely go wrong. Amidst all the excitement of the current platform changes it’s important that advisers don’t lose sight of this fact, and don’t press the panic button too early, but care is needed.
The FCA factsheet on using fund supermarkets and wraps states, “Developments in the market could mean that your chosen platform provider(s) may not remain the most appropriate option for your business or clients. You may need to carry out periodic reviews.” It seems to me that the with the largest platform provider potentially changing ownership, the imminent sunset clause, and all the other changes happening, now is probably time for a “periodic review“.