Adviser platforms are “changing shape” but there's more work to do to ensure the market caters better to advisers' changing needs, according to Bravura’s business development head Emma Napier.
Appearing on the Lang Cat's latest HomeGames webinar last week (January 26), Napier explained that platforms have been around for 10-15 years and in that time have widely stayed the same.
However, some platforms were now branching off and starting to develop their offering to advisers, she said.
She said: “There's certain platforms that are changing shape now in the industry. And those platforms are the platforms of the future.”
The technology executive cited Fidelity FundsNetwork’s recent brand change to ‘Fidelity Adviser Solutions’, reported by FTAdviser last week (January 25), as an example.
“Now that says to me that they're trying to tune the old FundsNetwork platform into an adviser solution, because not every adviser is the same,” said Napier.
In light of the current wave of mergers and acquisitions across the advice sector, Napier said platforms needed to adapt to the varied requirements each advice firm had.
“Platforms can change the game by using micro services, or just future developments, to think ahead and ask ‘what do I need to look like?’ or ‘how can I be more efficient?’.
“There's so much that they can do, and that's where they should be looking for the future - [at] the agility and the expertise that they've got.”
Despite the growth of white-label platform technology such as Multrees and Seccl, the Bravura executive said most advice firms did not want to own or control the technology, but they did want to have influence on their client proposition. “This is really crucial,” she said.
Napier was joined in the session by Tony Vail, co-founder of Wealth Wizards, the owner of adviser software provider Turo, who said platform development should be about "being configurable”.
He continued: “I don’t want a small advice firm having to get two QAs [quality assurance] and a development team just to configure the tech to give a differentiated proposition.
“They [advice firms] should get Intelligent Office or Azure platform or whatever is out of the box and make it work for their practice, with their funds, with their way of engaging with the client.”
One issue listeners raised was whether a set of common standards might evolve among platforms on how they deal with advisers’ annual reviews.
Advice firms have expressed their frustration over the years, according to The Lang Cat, around the fact they have to go round different providers for information.
The consultancy put the question to the panel on a common standard as a solution, acknowledging platforms had, in the past, said they were hesitant to share ‘commercially sensitive data’ and help their competitors.