Embark  

Embark CEO: 'We want to double our market share'

Embark CEO: 'We want to double our market share'
Jackie Leiper, CEO of Embark

Embark will pump investment into its platforms to make the offering more attractive to advisers following the takeover by Lloyds, the firm's chief executive has told FTAdviser in an exclusive interview. 

Speaking to FTAdviser ahead of the acquisition completing today (February 1), Jackie Leiper said she saw a “massive opportunity for growth” in expanding the number of advisers currently using the platforms.

Embark has two platforms - the Embark Platform, which is retirement focused and offers advisers access to pensions and Isas, and Advance by Embark, formerly the Zurich platform, which caters to retail advisers.

Across both Embark has 1,700 advisers but Leiper said the business is looking to double its share of the market over a five-year period.

She said the firm would concentrate on selective areas to remain competitive in an already crowded market.

Leiper said: “One of the areas that Embark is starting to see some real success is in its white label capability. So this is where Embark can white label the platform and the proposition for an adviser so effectively, it looks like [the advice firm’s] platform. 

“That part of the business has got some real growth opportunities.”

Replatforming plans

Lloyds bought the Embark business for £390mn. 

Prior to this, Embark had bought the retail side of the Zurich platform, but its workplace savings platform went to Scottish Widows at the time. 

With the Lloyds-Embark deal complete, the platforms will be back under one roof.

Embark has plans to create a multi-brand service, bringing Scottish Widows’ retirement products onto its platforms and introducing functions such as drip feed drawdown.

Leiper said: “[The platforms] will definitely be quite a big investment area for us because we are really committed to the intermediary market. We will have a rolling programme of improvements and investments that we will make in the platform.”

Embark is turning to advisers for their input on what these improvements should involve.

“Advisers are the ones using the platform day in and day out, so I am quite keen to have user forms where they can feed back on what works, what doesn't and what improvements they want to see," Leiper said. “And that will definitely feed into the roadmaps.”

But any replatforming will be carried out carefully to avoid disruption to advisers at all costs, she said.

Embark has experience in this area as it has already executed “several major migrations”, according to Leiper. 

“We will plan it carefully and do it in phases,” she said. “We really try and make sure we avoid that big bang and nothing works type of experience.”

Last month (January 21), Embark unveiled its new charging structure for the 41,000 former Alliance Trust Savings advised clients which were migrated to its platform following the acquisition back in 2019.

The change means cost will go up for some clients but advisers have said Embark is still "relatively well-priced" compared to others.

amy.austin@ft.com