If ever a person could be described as eating, sleeping and breathing one company, it is Pat Shea.
The American has been at Fidelity ever since he entered financial services in the mid-1980s from his undergraduate degree in the US, and having taken on a new role last year, it doesn’t look like his loyalty is about to wane.
Mr Shea assumed the role of head of FundsNetwork, Fidelity’s fund platform, after David White left the role last summer.
Platforms are very much under the spotlight at present from the regulator, advisers and the media as the pressure intensifies on fund supermarkets, such as FundsNetwork, to deal with their legacy book and essentially bring an end to trail commission for advisers by April 2016, and therefore implement adviser charging systems.
The businesses have also had to deal with a ruling from HM Revenue & Customs that rebates outside of tax wrappers are subject to tax and pressure is mounting for them to broaden the types of products they offer and they also face calls to make sure re-registration between platforms improves. Fund supermarkets are also facing increased competition from wrap platforms which have worked under an adviser charging model for years – something the likes of FundsNetwork has had to spend time and money implementing.
“You’ve just said a lot there,” Mr Shea exclaims as all the hurdles platforms have to jump at present are raised. “What has struck me is that the amount of change at one time is phenomenal. The ground is shifting for everyone that is in the value chain – platforms, fund providers, advisers and end consumers themselves. The biggest thing is the level of change that is happening at such a quick pace and how you bring all the people along on that journey of change.”
Mr Shea adds the platform has, for the past few years, been focused on introducing technology needed to make sure it was ready for the RDR and considers the business to be “fully compliant”.
He does have one bugbear though, which he offers freely, and that is re-registration – or the movement of a client’s assets from one platform to another. “I guess I’m asking what the overall objective is and to me it is to deliver good outcomes for end consumers and advisers who have every right to expect re-registration to be done in a timely manner,” he riles. “We made a considerable investment in automating re-registration and what has been disappointing, if I am perfectly honest and frank, is to see other parts of the value chain not making similar investments.
“Some platforms have not made the investment but the area I am particularly concerned about is the asset managers and fund partners.”
Mr Shea confirms he is “working behind the scenes” to encourage the industry to improve the speed of re-registration and says he would “call on members of the industry to rise to this challenge”.