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IFA: I ‘predominantly’ use one platform and will stay indy

An IFA has said that he “predominantly” uses a single platform to process client business and that this poses no threat to his independence, in spite of the regulator highlighting the likely need to use multiple providers in a recent regulatory review.

In a thematic review on how firms are implementing the Retail Distribution Review, published on the 25 June, the Financial Conduct Authority said it was concerned some firms, while describing themselves as independent, were not offering a truly independent service.

In particular the FCA provided a ‘case study’ of a firm holding itself out as independent where almost all business is being placed with one platform and most clients are offered a pre-determined list of products or investments.

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Under RDR rules there is no requirement to offer more than one platform to clients, but the FCA has stated that in practice it will be hard to prove independence while having a bias towards a single platform.

However, in an interview with FTAdviser, to be published later today (16 August), Matthew Walne, managing director of Leicestershire-based Santorini Financial Planning, said he “predominantly” uses a single platform to process client business and intends to continue doing so.

Admitting that it is “difficult in that sense to prove independence”, Mr Walne said the key to being able to focus his business in this way was the relative homogeneity of his client book and the extensive due diligence he has undertaken on the sector.

He added, though, that a major consideration for advisers and clients was service and that this “is not easy to compare easily”.

Mr Walne currently uses Nucleus for the majority of his business due to it having “the best range of products and funds” and being “very difficult to beat” on service.

“I mainly use Nucleus at the moment and their pricing model is changing a little bit in November which makes it a bit better for some larger holdings, and their service is second to none so why would I change it? But it is difficult in that sense to prove that you are independent.”

He said his independent status would also require him to look beyond these platforms - or platforms altogether - if he needs to access a product that he cannot find on his chosen provider.

“It’s when you need to use something that a client may require that is not necessarily on a platform then you need to look further afield but my due diligence on platforms I use is pretty good.

“I am also using Novia as well but I find them a little too expensive and they are quite difficult to use in terms of functionality when compared to Nucleus. It can’t do things at the touch of a button in the way that Nucleus can.”

The full interview with Mr Walne will be published later today.