Four in ten advisers consider full platform ownership

Four in ten advisers consider full platform ownership

More than 40 per cent of advice firms are considering operating their own platform instead of using or white-labelling a third-party platform.

Research by platform technology provider Seccl found 44 per cent of advisers are considering platform ownership.

It found 33 per cent have given the idea of platform ownership some consideration and a further 11 per cent have given it a lot of thought.

Chief among the reasons why firms would consider this route were operational efficiency (35 per cent) and owning customer relationships more fully (34 per cent). 

The research also highlighted advisers’ perceived lack of control over poor customer service that some platforms provide to their clients, as well as having little or no control over platform development.

Sam Handfield-Jones, co-CEO of Seccl, said: “This research shows that nearly all firms in our industry feel that their clients hold them responsible for a platform service that they don’t feel in control of.

"This is a big deal and, in our view, underlines exactly why we’re seeing more advisers and investment managers looking to take control of their destiny by operating a platform of their own.

“Historically, the decision to launch a platform has only really been open to the very largest firms or national networks – those with many billions of assets and large in-house platform admin teams.

"But technology means that smaller firms can now look to get a piece of the platform action. And, as this research shows, a growing number now are.”

In May research from Nextwealth found almost half of advisers planned to launch their own white-label platform in the next three years. 

At the time, Nextwealth managing director Heather Hopkins said technology was driving this push, with the main drivers behind the trend towards white label platforms being increased control over price and increased ability to capture margins from the platform fee revenues.

White labelling refers to where firms can brand and potentially influence the pricing or terms through which a platform is provided.

Advisers who choose to operate their own platform on the other hand receive full ownership of the platform experience.

Seccl's research was conducted by the Lang Cat among 181 advisers between May 19 and June 14, 2021.

Mark Polson, principal at the Lang Cat, said: “Clearly operating a platform won’t be right for many firms, but 40 per cent is a chunky minority of the market that’s looking into it. 

“Big shifts in our sector don’t come all at once, and I suspect twenty odd years ago we’d have seen a similar proportion of firms beginning to consider using a platform for the first time.

"It certainly feels like we’re seeing a new category forming, which allows firms to take greater control of the platform experience.”

Handfield-Jones added: “It’s a big decision, and one that carries additional responsibilities and risks, too. But for the right firms, it can prove instrumental in improving the overall client experience, and building more efficient, affordable and sustainable businesses in the process.”