M&G Wealth to focus on tech to grow platform

M&G Wealth to focus on tech to grow platform
Vince Smith-Hughes, director of specialist business support at Pru UK

M&G Wealth is looking to enhance its technology and investment offering during 2022 to make its platform more appealing to advisers.

Vince Smith-Hughes, director of specialist business support at Pru UK, told FTAdviserthat broadening the appeal of its platform was one of its core plans for next year.

Pru UK and M&G Wealth are a part of M&G, with M&G Wealth housing the M&G Wealth Platform, formerly known as Ascentric, as well as the direct funds business and its own advice arms.

M&G bought Ascentric from Royal London in 2020, bringing £14bn in assets and 1,500 adviser customers.

Smith-Hughes said: "One of the core plans for 2022 is to further broaden out the appeal of the platform to the intermediary market, with enhancements to both technology and the investment proposition."

He added that the profession as a whole had a “collective duty to spread the multiple benefits of advice far wider than is currently the case”. 

To do this, M&G Wealth plans to increase the number of advisers through its academy, improve its online capabilities to help reduce adviser costs and provide its own hybrid advice solution which Smith-Hughes said will “see human interaction underpinned with digital technology at an affordable fee”.

Back in May, M&G Wealth appointed Ignition Advice to help develop its hybrid advice offering.

At the time it said the service will be delivered through its existing advisers and be complementary to the support M&G provides to independent financial advisers.

Smith-Hughes believes doing this could help to close the advice gap.

The OpenMoney UK Advice Gap report, carried out in August 2021, found only 7 per cent of savers had paid for advice in the last two years compared to just 10 per cent who said the same last year. 

However, of those who do pay for advice, over 90 per cent found it helpful. 

The research also found an estimated six million people in Britain would be willing to get financial advice, but think it costs too much. This has increased from 5.3 million in 2020. 

Smith-Hughes said: “People often say to me that advisers need to do more to close the advice gap, given the obvious benefits to customers who take advice. However, it clearly isn’t that simple – advisers need to think about the impact of taking on board more clients with possibly less assets, how much time that could take and what liability that could bring to their business. 

“Fortunately, with the help perhaps of the adoption of technology by advisers (enforced for some over the last two years), hybrid advice models are starting to emerge which could really make an impact in helping to close the gap.”

Meanwhile, Smith-Hughes said PruFund continues to remain popular with advisers.

“[PruFund] is well placed to meet the requirements of advisers seeking to find a solution for clients looking that can help dampen down market volatility, while still providing a multi asset proposition with the potential for attractive returns,” he said.