Platforms Tag

A lot has happened in the world of platforms this week — most of it in Scotland. First there was the news that Standard Life Aberdeen is selling Parmenion, one of its three platforms. Hot on its heels was the announcement that its Edinburgh neighbour, Nucleus, had received offers for its entire share capital. Last but not least, Novia is reportedly changing hands before Christmas (OK, Novia is technically not Scottish but bear with us).

After a couple of months of speculation, M&G has reached an agreement with Royal London to purchase its platform, Ascentric. The deal, subject to FCA approval, brings £14bn of assets and over 90,000 clients to the M&G, in what seemed at first like an oddly timed move.

Standard Life gave its customers an early Christmas present today, announcing lower fees on the Standard Life Wrap and introducing the Drawdown Price Lock.

A new job in the city with more money has meant that I’ve been able to save. Hurrah! I had a general investment account with Fidelity and topped it up with a smallish investment. I was quite happy with the way my investment was ticking along, until I decided to check out the charges on offer.

Alliance Trust was saved from a fate worse than death when it was sold to Interactive Investor, a D2C platform, last year. Ever since, the industry has been wondering whether Interactive Investor would move into the advised platform arena or stick to its knitting. The wondering is finally over as it was announced that Embark is buying the adviser platform.

In a move that cements its position as a platform for high-net-worth investors and family offices, 7im has cut fees for investors with more than £2m on platform. From 1st April, investors with between £2m and £5m will see their fees fall from 0.15% to 0.08% for assets between £2m and £5m, while those with more than £5m will see fees drop from 0.15% to 0.05% on balances over £5m.

Following the recent release of the FCA’s Investment Platforms Market Study final report, the regulator has launched a consultation on the exit charge issue which will consider either a ban or cap on platform exit fees. The potential ban on the charging of exit fees by platforms will, the regulator believes, improve competition and make it easier for investors to switch platforms. Here we drill down into who charges and who doesn’t in the platform world.

Standard Life today announced a price decrease for its Elevate platform for all new clients from 1st April 2019. This is a great move by Standard Life. It demonstrates a commitment to its core financial planning market and willingness to share economies of scale with advisers and end-consumers.

For the last 10 years we've produced annual five-year projections based on industry trends and the economic outlook and their likely impact on the platform industry. 2018 has been a challenging environment for the industry with some platforms taking a far larger slice of the action than others. Despite the challenging environment, the overwhelming consensus from platform leaders is that platforms that can support advisers to support their clients have a long-term sustainable future.

The FCA’s interim platform report has already been well and truly thrashed out by trade journals and other research houses. However, we believe that our tools and research are ideal for proactively engaging with the regulator’s long-term objectives and have reviewed the interim report on that basis. But first let’s start with the basics: why, who and what.

Nucleus has finally confirmed what we’d suspected for sometime: it’s going to float on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market. Transact was the first to take the plunge on 2nd March and in the same month AJ Bell announced that it was preparing a flotation in late 2018/early 2019. Nucleus’s announcement came on 2nd July, but it’s working to a punchy calendar and plans to have the whole thing tied up by late July, which is pretty fast by anyone’s book. 

After almost two decades of the market being dominated by three or four technology providers, there are several new platform technologies emerging. There’s been a lot of noise about Hubwise and Embark, but Seccl will soon be out there drumming up business too. All of them have the potential to disrupt the platform market. Their competitive advantage lies in the fact that they provide pared down, focused propositions that have none of the legacy technology and inefficiencies in existing technologies.