How will platforms look in future?

This article is part of
Guide to platform consolidation

Ms Hopkins observes the increased competition the FCA is striving for would lead to stronger smaller players, which could mean fewer rescue sales of platforms, as has been seen in the past.

“The FCA’s Investment Platform Market Study Interim Report took aim at transfers. This is good news," she says. 

"Making it easier to transfer assets across platforms will mean that legacy platforms lose assets more quickly than in the past. This will be an important driver of competition among platforms and consolidation.” 

Mr Barrett reads the report a different way, predicting instead it could lead to increased consolidation because it signals it will not be taking disruptive regulation as far as it might have done. 

He notes: “The interim report broadly gave the industry a thumbs up, so the risk of any potential disruption for any potential consolidations due to regulatory intervention has been reduced.”

Bella Caridade-Ferreira, chief executive of Fundcsape, agrees with Ms Hopkins, the landscape is changing favourably for smaller platform businesses since the FCA’s interim report published in early July.

“I would expect the FCA will require platforms disclose fund pricing as well [as clearer platform fees]. That is where it is going to get interesting.

“Smaller, nimbler platforms, they will push back on that and pressure for similar pricing," she adds.

Market innovation

In fact, Ms Caridade-Ferreira is so optimistic about emerging platform companies, she said she expects to see the opposite of consolidation taking place.

“I think we will see a lot of advice companies go direct to technology companies and say ‘we do not need all the bells and whistles. This is what we sell - can you build a bespoke platform for this?’

“There will be a proliferation of adviser wealth manager-led platforms,” she predicts. 

This will be music to the ears of Jeannie Boyle, executive director of Brighton-based EQ Investors, who is keen to see a future platform market full of innovative solutions from new entrants.

“I do not know if there would be platform mergers, but if there will only be two players, where will innovation and impetus to drive costs down come from?" she asks.

“The platform industry needs to be innovating to make things better for clients. 

“That is why we work with Parmenion and we appreciate the work they have done in helping people access financial services. Platforms have a key role to play in democratising advice.” 

There is always the possibility of a more leftfield player disrupting the market and this is something Poole-based PFM Associates adviser, Martyn Brown, is keeping a weather eye on.