PlatformsFeb 25 2022

Parmenion to push strategy after ‘sitting on the side’ at Abrdn

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Parmenion to push strategy after ‘sitting on the side’ at Abrdn
Martin Jennings, Parmenion's CEO

Parmenion’s chief executive has laid out the platform’s strategy for 2022 and beyond, which he said will focus on actioning requests made by customers that were difficult to implement under its previous owner.

Martin Jennings told FTAdviser Parmenion had “sat on the side” at Abrdn, but that under its new ownership it will be able to roll out features more quickly.

“Now outside of the group, [it] allows us to take a fresh look and action some of the things that our customers have been asking for a few years,” said Jennings.

In March 2021, Parmenion was sold by Abrdn to private equity firm Preservation Capital Partners and AssetCo in a £102mn deal. The former owns 70 per cent, whilst the latter owns the remaining 30 per cent.

“Standard Life Aberdeen [now named Abrdn] were great shareholders, but they own a much bigger business with a number of different assets within the estate,” Jennings explained.

We won't try to be all things to all people. We're not here to ‘out-wrap’ the wraps.Martin Jennings

“So your strategy always has to be mindful of the broader group strategy that sits within that structure. Since we’ve come outside of the Standard Life Group, we are unencumbered by somebody else's strategy. And that allows us now to focus on the things that our customers have been saying. 

“Standard Life Aberdeen had Standard Life Wrap, the Elevate proposition, whilst we were a DFM business sat on the side, not your platform business. Clearly, the group had objectives that it was trying to cover off.”

A year on from private equity backing, Jennings said the deal had provided oxygen for the business. “It’s not provided any constraints at all.”

Allaying advisers’ fears of change under the new ownership, Jennings said the firm’s new shareholders had bought into a strategy, and not come in to change the business, its operating model or structure.

“We’re not trying to push multiple platforms together. We’re not here trying to cut costs, replatform, merge, compete on price, or go head-to-head with outsource providers."


The strategy is threefold: to grow investment choice, expand retirement options, and to look at ways to make better use of data.

“We won't try to be all things to all people. We're not here to ‘out-wrap’ the wraps,” said Jennings. 

The primary way Parmenion intends to expand its investment options is through partnerships.

Earlier this month, the company launched its ‘Affinity’ partnership programme to provide more DFM service options to advisers.

As a DFM-turned-platform business, Jennings also recognised the need to expand products around retirement - mainly its post-retirement division, by enhancing drawdown.

“2022 will see us improve our post-retirement proposition,” said the CEO.

On data, Parmenion has already extended its data warehousing and reporting, which included its launch of Vantage last year.

But Jennings said the next stage would be “looking at new ways to share data”, utilising its ownership of the technology, investment product and running its own custody service.

“We’ve got all our services in-house, so our ability to pivot quickly is a real strength of the business,” said Jennings.

“Advisers are crying out for systems to talk to each other. Unfortunately, in financial services we’ve become slightly protective [of data].”

AssetCo ‘regrets’ not owning more of Parmenion

Parmenion currently has 900 advisers, representing 80,000 clients and just less than £10bn of assets.

Martin Gilbert, chairman of AssetCo, told FTAdviser last month “it is a matter of regret” that his business does not own more than the 30 per cent it presently owns of the Parmenion platform.

Gilbert knows the platform well, as it was part of the Aberdeen Standard Life business he co-founded. 

The focus of many of the acquisitions made by Gilbert for AssetCo has been on asset management firms, including its deal to acquire River and Mercantile. 

But speaking in the aftermath of that deal announcement, Gilbert said: “Parmenion is a business we got to know well, and it is a business we admire hugely. We would like to have owned more of it. It has traded extremely well since we bought it and Preservation Capital welcomes our involvement.”

Gilbert said a focus of his plans for the platform will be to “get more products on there”. 

He said: “We can help Parmenion grow, and help it grow digitally. We think the platform can be the future of distribution in our industry."

He added: "We see platforms as a real opportunity. We are looking at potential acquisitions across all of the wealth space. But we see platforms as one of the areas within wealth management that is growing at least compared to other areas.

”We would like to have more long-term agreements with advisers, at this point in time it makes sense for us to get more IFAs on agreements like that, and get a greater percentage of the assets they run onto our platform, and I hope we see that happening." and