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Standard Life on how to grow advice firms

Standard Life on how to grow advice firms

Firms would do well to grow capacity in 2019 and beyond but this will require a shift in attitudes to technology, Standard Life's head of financial planning has said.

Alastair Black said making use of automation, and in particular cutting down work that is not client facing, would be a major part of the answer to growing capacity at advice firms and providers.

He said: "While some firms are understandably slowing down client acquisition after years of unprecedented revenue growth, there’s potentially a big prize for those that can create more capacity in 2019 and beyond.

"This won't be easy. Automation to release capacity will be a major part of the answer, but there needs to be a shift in emphasis by providers from capturing new clients with robo to reducing ongoing effort from non-client-facing activity."

He said platforms were already investing heavily to develop functionality for portfolio managers to help them with Mifid Prod rules, which dictate that firms must demonstrate suitability across their entire client book.

In the context of the Prod rules traditional portfolio management processes were an obvious target for change this year, he suggested. 

He added: "For clients with exceptional financial planning requirements, like [capital gains tax] management, we’ll start to see algorithms take more strain from advisers, paraplanners and portfolio managers.

"Where client needs are simpler, platforms are also looking at combinations of client self-service and adviser alerts to allow advice firms to step back from basic servicing.  

"Increased FCA focus in the form of the platform study will demand adviser platforms to extend capabilities in this area, which they will seek to redeploy in support of advisers."

Mr Black also pointed to Mifid's annual disclosure requirement which became effective in January and forces advisers to give their clients a detailed breakdown of costs and charges levied in the year.

He said: "Expect confusion about calculation methodologies and whether it’s acceptable for advisers to rely on platforms to issue annual statements."

carmen.reichman@ft.com