AvivaJan 31 2023

Aviva platform boss on filling 'gaps' and becoming advisers' first choice

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Aviva platform boss on filling 'gaps' and becoming advisers' first choice
Aviva's head of adviser platform, Al Ward, said junior products including an Isa are "a key focus" for the firm as it guns for higher usage among advisers
ByRuby Hinchliffe

Aviva’s new platform boss, Al Ward, will be overseeing a number of new roll outs this year after joining from Abrdn to work on "gaps" in Aviva’s offering and secure its status as a first-choice platform among advisers.

Ward, who joined Aviva in April last year, told FTAdviser that the group plans to add a suite of junior products, alongside a series of other developments.

These include an ESG profiler tool to help advisers track impact to client portfolios over time, the ability to provide a centralised investment proposition in the context of ESG, as well as more search and select functionality.

All these features are being built in conjunction with FNZ, Aviva’s core technology provider. 

“We think we’re in a really strong position given where some of the rest of the industry is,” said Ward. “We’ve got a stable offering and a great experience. The challenge is spreading that, so advisers who don’t use Aviva and never have understand what we’re building.

“We do have some gaps that we’re going to fill this year, so a Junior Isa and a junior suite is a key focus based on adviser feedback.”

Interview in brief:

  • Aviva to launch junior suite of products this year, along with portfolio impact tool and further ESG enhancements.
  • Provider keen to keep a “clean” platform pricing model and avoid adding “revenue-generating widgets”.
  • Succession - the IFA the insurance group acquired last year - has now added Aviva to its platform panel following review.
  • Ward: Adviser-as-platform model generates 'more noise than demand', all advisers want is voices at the table and good service.
  • Since the pandemic, Aviva has stopped requiring experience from candidates joining its distribution team to tackle talent pool shortages.
  • Due diligence around what sits on platforms, and what is moved on and off it - ie, cross-cutting - will become a bigger focus for providers under consumer duty.

Secondary to primary choice platform

Asked whether Aviva intends to charge extra for some of its platform developments, such as the portfolio impact tool, Ward said the provider is keen to keep a “clean” platform pricing model and avoid adding “revenue-generating widgets”.

Since 2019, the platform has made some 120 improvements and intends to add to this number.

Ward is keen to make further improvements which sit somewhere between big, costly developments and changes so small they are hard to add.

We’re really conscious about what we add to the platform. We could add lots of things to the platform, and add lots of risk, but then your cost goes up.Al Ward, Aviva

“We’re not adding extra, revenue-generating widgets to the platform. We don’t need to,” said Ward.