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Octopus platform to be 'like using smartphone'

Octopus platform to be 'like using smartphone'

The new Octopus platform will be as easy to use as a smartphone, according to Sam Handfield-Jones, co head of Seccl, the provider of the underlying technology.

Octopus announced this morning that it has bought Seccl, a Bath-based provider of technology used by advisers to create their own platform. 

Mr Handfield-Jones said the combined entity would create a mass market platform for advisers, which will incorporate banking and insurance products alongside investment and pension functions.

There will be two versions, one operated by advisers themselves and an Octopus full-service platform, which will be an ‘off-the-shelf'-type solution for advisory firms that don’t want to build and operate their own technology.

He said: “Over the medium term we will also launch an Octopus full-service platform. But from day one, Seccl offers the opportunity for smaller advice and investment firms to genuinely think about operating their own platform, taking control of the customer experience and delivering better outcomes for their clients and their own firm.

"However, the opportunity is actually much bigger. With Seccl we can build a financial services platform to power the solutions and services that hundreds of thousands of customers use — from banking and budgeting to insurance, pensions and investments, and even money transfers — removing friction. 

"Our vision is that it should be as easy to integrate third party solutions into our technology as it is to download an app on your iPhone."

Octopus paid £10m to acquire Seccl, which was founded in 2017 as a whitelabel platform for advisers. 

Seccl will be a stand alone business initially, while some staff will move over from Octopus, and additional staff will be hired in the technical departments to support the platform project.

The Seccl name will remain in existence for the time being, but in the longer-term the company may be rebranded to the Octopus name. 

There has been some innovation around open banking apps in the industry to include all of a client's finances, including bank accounts, pensions and investments.

Lloyds Banking Group recently announced that it plans to allow clients using its banking app to make contributions to their pensions while the bank will also offer pensions advice and guidance through the app.

Ben Hammond, of consultancy firm Altus, said: “I think a lot of platform providers would like to be providing insurance and banking as well as investments and pensions.

"Certainly when platforms started, the idea was that platforms were supposed to be the centre of the client's financial universe, but it has never really happened that way.

"I think the outsourced white label proposition Seccl offer could be quite compelling for advisers in time.”

david.thorpe@ft.com