Nucleus 

Nucleus expects clients to move away from troubled platforms

Nucleus expects clients to move away from troubled platforms

Nucleus boss David Ferguson has said he expects 2019 to be the year when advisers switch away from the platforms that experienced technology problems last year.

He said so far Nucleus has seen a few advisers join from rivals which experienced technology problems last year but he expects the bulk of this movement to happen this year.

He said: "I think that will bite more in 2019, simply because it is not that easy to switch. But there were cases where some platforms were not even able to tell a client how much was in their account, and we would expect that lack of trust to start to impact."

What's more, platform switching is set to become easier if proposals from the regulator are put into effect.

In the final report of its Investment Platforms Market Study out last month the Financial Conduct Authority proposed to restrict exit fees by bringing forward a cap or a ban. A consultation on the issue finishes in June.

Aviva and Aegon were the most prominent platform technology failures last year, with service outages and issues spanning several weeks.

Ascentric also faced some issues and Nucleus too suffered an "outage" last month, albeit this was resolved within a short space of time.

Mr Ferguson was commenting in the context of Nucleus reporting a 6 per cent increase in the number of advisers on the platform, to 1,396 at the end of December, from the previous year's 1,317.

The platform's results out this morning (April 2) showed total assets under administration were £13.8bn at the end of 2018, a 2.3 per cent increase on the previous year. Profits were £4.8m, an increase of 15 per cent.

Mr Ferguson said the operating margins were slightly lower, as he continues to invest in the business, but ultimately he expects margins to grow as economies of scale take effect.

The earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) margin of Nucleus was just over 20 per cent in 2018, but he said that several bigger rivals had margins of 30-40 per cent, and he expects to move Nucleus in that direction as the business gets bigger.

Mr Ferguson added: "The Mifid II rules have started to shine a light on fund management fees like never before, and I expect that will have a bigger impact on the industry than Mifid II did.

"One area of potential growth for us is as we have got bigger, we have gathered more data insights into what is being bought by fund managers, and we think that could be used to help advisers, give them an ability to see more of what the fund managers are doing."

david.thorpe@ft.com