Regulation 

Platforms to engage closely with regulator over outages

Platforms to engage closely with regulator over outages

Aviva and Aegon have said they will consider the issues raised in a discussion paper which told providers to up their game and make their systems more resilient to cyber attacks and outages.

The 48-page paper published this morning by the Financial Conduct Authority, the Bank of England and the Prudential Regulation Authority said senior managers should take responsibility for creating back-up plans if their systems go down.

It comes after problems at Visa, which left millions of people across Europe unable to make payments, and issues at TSB, which saw nearly two million people being locked out of online banking services.

But it also follows the problems faced by both Aviva and Aegon, which moved their platforms onto new technology this year, only to see advisers face a whole host of problems.

An Aviva spokeswoman said: "We will study the discussion paper in detail and we look forward to engaging constructively with the regulators on these important issues."

An Aegon spokeswoman said: "The discussion paper published today covers a broad subject area relating to the operational resilience of the financial system and the individual firms and financial market infrastructures within it.

"Given its broad scope it requires thorough review and we will review the paper and provide feedback on the points included within it."

Over the May Bank Holiday weekend more than 400,000 users of the Cofunds retail platform and £37bn of assets were moved across to the Aegon Platform.

Aegon bought Cofunds in 2016 for £140m and has been planning the integration of the two platforms ever since.

Since the replatforming, FTAdviser received feedback from advisers around the country that reported difficulties using the revamped platform.

Aviva's platform was unavailable for six days beginning on the evening of 17 January and just one day after it came back online advisers and their clients found themselves locked out.

Since then there have been a litany of problems with processing adviser charges, switching funds, processing income drawdown, facilitating Isa contributions and erroneous alerts sent out indicating huge value drops in client portfolios.

The three authorities have said boards and senior management should assume individual systems and processes that support business services will be disrupted, and increase the focus on back-up plans, responses and recovery options.

They have also suggested the use of time limits for how long outages should last and have recommended that firms stress test their systems for "severe but plausible" scenarios.

Firms were also told to establish the resilience of any outsourced providers and make sure they have a plan in place if these suffer an outage themselves.

Alistair Cunningham, Chartered financial planner at Wingate Financial Planning, said his firm uses a variety of platforms to help mitigate the risks to his business and clients of any outages, but he said one of the fund supermarkets he uses has had serious issues lately.

He said: "When that happens, well that platform is the whole world for the clients that are on the platform, so although it might be only a small part of our overall business, it is important to that client."

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