Financial Conduct Authority  

Platforms still haunted by replatforming gripes

Platforms still haunted by replatforming gripes

Cofunds and Ascentric are still experiencing high levels of complaints after their recent troubled replatforming exercises.

Official complaints data from the Financial Conduct Authority, published today (October 17), showed Cofunds received 3,723 complaints in the six months to June — 82.6 per cent of which were upheld.

But the number of complaints is almost half that measured for the last six months of 2018, when the platform received 6,483 complaints of which 89.1 per cent were upheld.

Aegon, which bought Cofunds for £140m in 2016, merged it with its in-house platform over the May Bank Holiday weekend last year.

Shortly after the platform was beset by a range of problems, including long waiting times on the phone and advisers struggling to get income. 

The latest data from the regulator is of a similar tune to that seen by the Financial Ombudsman Service, which saw investment complaints against Cofunds soar in the second half of last year as the company continued to struggle with its replatforming backlash. 

Last year assets on the Cofunds platform fell by £8.5bn, making it the platform with the biggest net losses in the 2018 calendar year, according to consultancy Fundscape.

Today’s data also showed Royal London’s platform Ascentric, whose trading name is Investment Funds Direct, received 1351 complaints, also centred around on its replatforming.

Of the complaints 87 per cent were upheld, making the platform’s uphold rate the highest of the platforms, advice firms or provider firms in the data.

Ascentric’s head of sales, Justin Blower, said: “While we are always working to keep complaint levels as low as possible we did see an increase in the first half of 2019 as we continued our re-platforming project.

"However, this project has now completed and the number of complaints received has started to decrease.

"We will continue to work closely with our advisers and clients to identify and resolve any issues as quickly as possible.”

In terms of advisers, Old Mutual Wealth Life & Pensions (Quilter) received 904 complaints — 58 per cent of which were upheld — while 1,723 complaints were filed against Charter Court, though only 40.3 per cent were upheld against the firm.

Advice firms St James’s Place Wealth Management and Sesame received 937 and 574 complaints respectively.

Nearly 30 per cent (29.1 per cent) of the complaints were upheld against SJP while Sesame fared slightly better with an uphold rate of 29.1 per cent.

Hargreaves Lansdown, which is a platform and advice service, experienced a hefty 1984 complaints in the six months to June, of which 55.6 per cent were upheld.

Danny Cox, head of communications at HL, said: “We are always disappointed when we do not meet our clients’ expectations. The numbers of complaints we receive is a tiny fraction of the millions of transactions and contacts we have with our 1,250,000 clients.”

Overall, the FCA received 4.29m complaints for the first half of the year — up from 3.91m in the second half of 2018.