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How to deal with re-platforming

If you’re an adviser and you use a platform, there’s a very good chance you will go through or have gone through or are going through a big technology change on your primary platform (using platform in its widest sense). Here’s a list of who I think is where:

Recently completed

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Nucleus – upgrade from Bravura Talisman to Sonata

AJ Bell – core processing moved from proprietary to GBST

FNW – moved pensions to GBST

Hornbuckle – just gone live with FNZ

On the go

Ascentric – moving from BlueButton to Bravura

ATS – moving to GBST

OMW – moving to IFDS BlueDoor

And that’s just a few. Lots of Sipp companies and lifecos are also moving around.

How you deal with this is crucial. It’s tempting to say something anodyne about ‘positive engagement’, and I probably have in the past. But that’s really only half the story. I think advisers and their staff have now got to a stage (and I’m generalising horribly here) where they do understand in far more detail what’s going on inside platforms and product technology. They may not know why something’s not great, or totally great, but they could probably work it out if they spent the time.

The challenge, then, for everyone is to shift the grounds of how we think about all this away from a combative commercial space over to one which is about giving expert users exactly what they need. To dig deeper into my tired motorsport analogy from earlier, the pit crew don’t keep facts about the performance of the vehicle from the F1 driver; they tell him everything so he can adjust to the reality of what’s in front of him. No one is worried (at that moment) about how something will play on the front page of trade papers, or whether the guys at Red Bull will laugh at them; it’s all about getting on with it.

Pace changer

I think something like that might be what we need as the pace of major system change and re-platforming picks up. We’ll see more happening across platforms, lifecos and Sipp cos, with sunset being a driver. We can either try to get through this as providers move onto their strategic technology ‘stack’ for the next few years, or we can tear strips out of each other.