Platforms are a part of everyday life

This article is part of
Guide to platforms

Mr Hammond said: “One adviser recently told me he looked for ‘financial strength, functionality, competitive pricing, white labelling, support including adviser tools and professional client-facing reports.

“Reporting is a key area that is at the forefront of an adviser’s mind and is just as important to institutional clients and indeed the platforms themselves when looking to their technology supplier for innovation.”

Ms Kenny agrees: “Many clients now expect reporting and other tools to be available through their mobile devices and therefore the ability to view portfolios through an app is becoming increasingly important.

“The ability to link or integrate to financial software from other providers can also be highly desirable.”

She adds, however, that one of the most critical elements is the longevity of the platform and business strategy of the platform provider.

With so many platforms in operation, consolidation has long been discussed within the industry and some major mergers have already taken place – Aegon and Cofunds, Skandia and Selestia and Standard Life and Axa Elevate, for example.

Mr Neilson agrees that this is also something advisers consider. “Advisers need to know that the platform or platforms they’re partnering with are going to be in it for the long haul – this means understanding issues such as a platform’s financial strength, its approach to data security and how effective it will be in supporting advisers and their clients both now and in the future.

“Platforms are an integral part of the advice process, and so represent a key business relationship for advisers.”

For advisers, platforms form an integral part of their everyday business. There are currently around 20 platforms operating in the UK, each offering a number of features, functions and assistance to support adviser businesses.

What is needed, or deemed most useful, from a platform is almost unique to the individual adviser, largely dependent on how that relationship will work in practice and the extent that the platform will be required by the business.

Ms Kenny explains: “I could rattle off a load of features but these features are only relevant if the firm and their clients require these.

“At the heart of it, all platforms need to deliver dealing and custody and client reporting, as well as providing a high level of service and responsiveness, at a competitive price. Over and above that, it is all dependent on the firm's client proposition and their business model.”

Nucleus chief customer officer Barry Neilson agrees: “While platforms have a clear role to play in helping an advice business be more efficient, it’s worth remembering that platform choice should also be about supporting great client outcomes.

“This means advisers should be able to demonstrate how a particular platform fits with clients’ needs, and the types of clients advisers are working with.