Platforms must explore ways to support advisers in their digital and sustainable goals, M&G Wealth’s sales director has said.
Justin Blower told FTAdviser UK platforms needed to keep up the momentum in their digitisation and automation strategies, as hybrid advice becomes more important in a post-pandemic world and the UK government increasingly prioritises carbon neutrality in the wake of Cop26.
“Generally, advice firms have embraced portals and technology that allow them to service clients remotely,” said Blower. “And many more clients have become comfortable managing their investments online”.
But the sales boss has called on the platform industry to look beyond what it’s already achieved, and set its eye on future innovation.
“We need to see how else platforms can support that trend, enabling clients to self-serve more, while ensuring privacy, security and adviser control of the whole process,” Blower explained.
With the number of adviser firms using digital signatures swelling to 65 per cent by September according to NextWealth, Blower said he was sure remote working has become the norm for the majority of the industry.
As a result, companies have had to work harder to improve functionality for advisers.
Blower said this was among the company's plans. He said: "We’ll be providing increased on-platform functionality – including a selected suite of financial-planning tools and our new ‘Fund & Sustainability Research Tool’.
The latter will allow advisers to analyse each client’s investment portfolio from an environmental, social and governance perspective, allowing advisers to test different planning scenarios and identify funds which match their selected sustainability criteria.
He added: “We’ll continue to digitise more key client journeys – from onboarding clients to setting up income drawdown.”
According to Blower, this will allow advisers to focus more on “value-add” activities for clients, and reduce paperwork - hence cutting down advisers’ individual carbon footprints.
“We hope great digitisation will allow firms to reduce their own carbon footprint by minimising the need to travel and enabling them to do as much as possible for clients remotely,” said Blower.
Earlier in 2021, M&G Wealth’s parent firm published a 10-point plan in an effort to eventually become “fully sustainable”, joining other firms keen to lead the way to carbon neutrality.
It includeed an aim to become carbon net zero in its own operations by 2030 and across its investment portfolios by 2050.
“This creates a powerful foundation on which to make M&G’s wealth platform one of the leading venues on which advisers and investors can realise their own sustainability goals,” said Blower.
In 2022, the platform plans to launch three discretionary portfolios which offer investors different intensities of sustainable strategy, from light green to dark green.
One launch - which was supposed to go ahead this year but has since been pushed into next year - is M&G Wealth’s PruFund Planet range.