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Octopus platform hires veterans as it looks for IFA partners

Octopus platform hires veterans as it looks for IFA partners

Seccl has appointed stalwarts from Quilter, Embark and Ascentric as it eyes ambitious growth plans to triple the number of firms using its services in the next six months.

The platform technology business announced today (October 27) it had made a raft of senior hires to its management team, including Chris Smeaton, formerly head of commercial marketing at Embark Group, who will join Seccl as head of propositions.

Thomasina McGuigan, previously group head of regulatory advice at Quilter, is Seccl’s new head of compliance while Ty Conybear, Ascentric’s former head of business readiness, will join the firm as head of operations.

Sam Handfield-Jones, co-head of Seccl, told FTAdviser the hires were a “natural evolution” as the company continued to grow.

He added: “Over the last year, we have been working hard to build the foundations that will allow Seccl to scale. Today’s hires mark another important milestone in that journey.”

The appointments mark the latest in a string of hires Seccl has made since it was acquired by Octopus Group in September 2019, having seen its headcount grow from 13 to 40.

Seccl’s technology allows advisers to create their own platform in-house. This means the adviser is in charge of operating that platform and can control the whole client journey, from client portals and logins to the fees they pay.

Currently, some five firms use Seccl’s interface with six more on track to use the service. Mr Handfield-Jones told FTAdviser he was expecting to “triple” the number of firms using the interface to 15 in the next six months.

The company has also seen a positive effect from the pandemic, which has prompted firms to rethink their software and digital processes.

He said: “All the firms that were already interested have accelerated their progress with Seccl, and we’ve not seen one instance of them pulling out.

“The Covid-related matters are all software related matters, for example if you need a paper signature or you call and there is no one at the call centre. 

“Those experiences are damaging to advisers’ clients, so having a digital platform is now a higher priority.”

Mr Handfield-Jones added that using Seccl’s technology was a “viable thing” for a firm to do, claiming that if advisers were looking to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on other parts of the business, the lower-cost platform option was “quite compelling”.

He added: “We haven’t yet seen the full impact that Seccl can have. We won’t be happy until we have tens of billions of assets powered by Seccl technology.”

Newly hired Ms McGuigan said: “Our industry is crying out for a shake-up – thinking is siloed, decision-making is slow and creating change can often feel like wading through treacle.

"The opportunity to forge a best-in-class compliance function within an organisation that acts with agility and pace was incredibly attractive.”

Seccl has previously argued that a shake-up of the relationship between advisers and platforms could help close the advice gap and that the idea of a platform as a “separate business” would change in the future and lead to better integration between advice firms and platforms.