Firing line  

Ian Taylor: how we built Transact

Ian Taylor: how we built Transact

Transact is one of the best-known and most popular wrap platforms available to financial advisers and, in the UK, certainly one of the first.

Developed by departing executive director, Ian Taylor and his colleague Mike Howard, who brought his platform knowledge over from Australia, it is now one of the largest and most profitable.

Operating on profit margins of around 50 per cent, it made £49m profits last year, and its share price has doubled since it floated (under the name of IntegraFin, its holding company) two years ago. It has just under £40bn of funds under direction.

However, perhaps more importantly for financial advisers, it has not been beset with problems in the way other platforms have, especially when it comes to providing the most up-to-date functionality for clients, and changing the underlying technology.

Mr Taylor says there are various reasons for this.

He says: “We had nothing to start with. We didn’t have to turn a life company into a platform business. 

“Owning your own tech was an enormous advantage for the specific reason you could build exactly what your clients wanted, rather than share something with everyone else [that] was wanted across the board. 

“We are one of the few companies built from scratch. All of the things we were doing were with the sole intention of building Transact.

“We weren’t trying to change a life business or an asset management business into a platform.”

Transact started via an introduction between Mr Taylor, when he was working at John Govett and Mr Howard, who had developed software, ObjectMastery, which was used by another platform in Australia.

The company began in 1999 when the pair and another colleague rented three rooms above an Italian restaurant in Shoreditch (“I was one of the first bearded people in Shoreditch”), and they turned an Australian product into an English one – incorporating the correct tax wrappers, for example.

Mr Taylor says they tried to change the basic structure of how people accessed their wealth.

“It centralised administration round Mrs Miggins, rather than advisers. It changed the way financial advice was delivered.

“Back in the late 1980s your pension was sold by an adviser and provided by a life company. The only investment choice is a choice of two or three [funds]; you would have had no idea what it would cost, and it was quite expensive.” Plus, by the time the client got a statement on the pension’s value, it was out of date.

Mr Taylor says they had some basic principles of what they were going to offer: Transact would provide transparent information, offer complete choice to the client and would charge them less.

“Why would anyone say ‘no’? It seemed so obvious, but that’s not how things work.”