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James Hay: ‘So be it’ if FNZ platform is not ready until 2023

James Hay: ‘So be it’ if FNZ platform is not ready until 2023

James Hay has said it is still "hoping" to soft launch its new FNZ platform at the back end of this year, but "so be it" if this launch spills over into early next year.

Back in March 2021, chief executive Richard Rowney said the firm's focus was on building the new platform and having it ready for a soft launch before the year was out.

Two sources have since told FTAdviser the new platform will not be ready for a soft launch until, at the earliest, May next year. 

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A spokesperson for the James Hay business said: "Any suggestion there has been a delay until May 2023 is categorically untrue – indeed, we do not even recognise this date."

The platform operator said this week it is still "hoping to kick off activity" towards the back end of this year, but that it’s really important to stress it is "not putting a date" on it.

A spokesperson for the firm added: "From other similar competitor projects that have gone spectacularly wrong over the years, we have learned it’s far more important to do it right than do it quick, so we will only launch when it’s ready.

"If that goes into early next year, so be it. We think advisers would support that approach.

"I can tell you that development is going well – we’ve got the scope and the design, and are reasonably well advanced with build and testing."

When it happens, the soft launch will see a small number of James Hay's large adviser clients migrated over to FNZ. The rest of the firm's adviser clients will follow later.

James Hay currently sits on technology which Rowney himself has described as a “burning platform” and “about 20 years out of date”.

He said back in March that advisers were saying: “Please God, get us onto the new technology.”

James Hay’s old platform has struggled with outflows over the past year. Its assets dipped by £126.4mn in the final quarter of 2021, according to Fundscape’s data.

It was the only investment platform in Fundscape’s report to see assets drop during the period. Meanwhile, other advised and DIY investment platform assets grew collectively by £42bn, or 4 per cent.

When these results were published in March, the wealth planning firm cited a “backlog of issues” to FTAdviser which had built up over the year due to what it dubbed “well known service problems”. 

In an analyst note published last week, investment bank Liberum said those on FNZ's technology could experience “queues” for updates as the provider’s market share grows.

“Given strong demand for FNZ’s services, there may also be a queue before advised firms can implement the updates they want,” the note said, putting FNZ’s market share at around 30 per cent.

Currently, James Hay’s former boss Alastair Conway is the chief executive of FNZ’s UK and South Africa businesses.