M&G outlines future of Ascentric platform

M&G outlines future of Ascentric platform

Fund house M&G has pledged it will be “business as usual” going forward for advisers using the Ascentric platform, as the firm plans to “drop” the platform into its existing structure.

David Macmillan, chief customer and distribution officer at M&G, said Ascentric would be integrated into M&G’s business over time but initially would be run as it is today.

He said: “It will be business as usual for Ascentric clients and we will support the leadership team to further develop and enhance that business for our advisers and customers.”

Chief executive of Ascentric, Rob Regan, will continue in his role and Ascentric will remain an “open-architecture platform” — where platforms offer both their own and third party products and services.

Mr Macmillan stressed there would be no need for any replatforming. This is positive news for advisers, who have been on the receiving end of a number of botched replatforming attempts over the last few years.

He said: “Ascentric will continue to operate their existing platform on a separate instance of [technology], and the service offering to Ascentric advisers and customers remains the same.”

Mr Macmillan also confirmed PruFund — M&G’s popular with-profits fund — and Ascentric would remain separate but “complementary”, as the firm would not be “migrating anything to or from either party” and instead would “run both propositions side by side”.

This means Ascentric advisers will not be able to access PruFund, the largest with-profits fund with more than £75bn of assets, via the platform. 

However, Mr Macmillan said M&G would “broaden availability of [its] solutions capability” across the market, including PruFund, on the back of the buyout, in a sign moves would be made to help advisers using Ascentric to present PruFund as part of their offering, even if off-platform.

The acquisition is expected to complete by the end of 2020 and the Ascentric platform will be rebranded in due course to be “clearly labelled as a core part of M&G”.

He added: “[The rationale for buying Ascentric] is in line with our growth strategy for the UK retail savings market, where we see demand for advice and reliable investment solutions growing because of the shift to self-provision for retirement.”

Concerning concerns

Ben Hammond, platforms director at Altus Consulting, said M&G needed to “closely manage” the message to advisers to provide reassurance and let them know what to expect both in the long and short term.

He added: “The key here will be ensuring that the overall separation from Royal London and merger with M&G are both carefully considered and executed.”

Meanwhile Chris Bryans, senior partner at Richmond Wealth, was most concerned about how M&G may change the “exceptional customer service” levels Royal London had provided.

The Ascentric platform powers the Richmond Wealth InvestmentPlatform, and Mr Bryans said he had been “impressed” with the customer service and “customer centric approach” he had experienced so far.