The pandemic changed the way we all interact, both socially and professionally. And platforms have been no different, although the impact has been a bit more nuanced.
According to Scott Gallacher, director at Rowley Turton, the pandemic has affected the way clients use platforms, often putting them in one of two camps.
When the crisis first began and markets started getting jittery, some clients reacted by viewing the performance of their investments all the time, while others did the opposite, refusing to look out of fear and anxiety.
Gallacher observes: “[The pandemic] has changed people a bit, moving them to one school or the other, but I think things will go back to normal.”
The industry has also seen engagement through platforms' shift to digital rather than paper.
This has been evidenced by the wide-spread introduction of digital signatures, which became absolutely vital to allow advisers to conduct business in a quick and secure way.
Digital signature development
Amanda Cassidy, managing director of Quilter Financial Advisers, says as a result of the introduction of e-signatures, the company expanded its digital signature capabilities, working closely with advisers to identify the systems they were using and ensure these would be accepted across the group to provide a seamless service for advisers and customers.
Over the past year Quilter’s platform has also encouraged customers to sign up for online access so they can view their investments and documents digitally to ensure they remain as up to date as they can be during the crisis.
Cassidy says in 2020 the business saw a substantial surge of 80 per cent of clients activating their online account, which was developed to make engagement and management of their finances easier.
She adds: “In the post-Covid world there will be increased scrutiny on suppliers, not just on cost but on actually proving they can provide the time-saving efficiencies required. It has always been the job of platforms to make things quicker, easier and smarter, and this crisis has made this more important than ever.
“We think advisers will be doing their due diligence on how platforms and back office systems responded to the coronavirus crisis. They should be asking their suppliers if services had to be temporarily withdrawn or whether new digital services were introduced to make life easier for advisers and their clients.”
Point of difference
Ian McKenna, founder of Financial Technology Research Centre and AdviserSoftware.com, says advisers are still using platforms for the vast majority of funds invested, but what is changing, is that increasing numbers of advisers are looking for different platform solutions.
"We are seeing more firms looking for a white label platform solutions which can reduce charges to consumers and provide some additional margin to the adviser. It is important both these elements are present, the client must benefit as well as the adviser," McKenna says.