Calls for new platform trade body

Calls for new platform trade body

The platform industry has called for a trade body that would better voice its concerns to the regulator and ease discussion with competitors and clients.

Net sales on platforms hit a record high of £10.5bn during the fourth quarter of last year, according to data from Fundscape.

Heightened activity has prompted providers and users of platforms to call for a more inclusive organisation to represent its interests and facilitate industry development.

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Earlier this week the FCA said it would run a separate market study into the investment platform space following on from its review of the asset management sector.

In its 2017/18 Business Plan published the FCA said its interim report into the asset management space highlighted a "number of competition issues" in the platform arena, warranting its own study.

James Jones-Tinsley, self-invested pensions technical specialist at Barnett Waddingham, said a trade body would be a “good thing” if membership could incorporate all platforms, along with associate membership for other interested parties, such as software providers, lawyers and banks.

There would need to be a “culture of an open exchange of issues and ideas” in order for the trade body to be effective, according to Mr Jones-Tinsley.

“It would give the platform industry the ability to engage with regulatory bodies and HMRC as a whole, rather than individually.”

He used the Association of Member-Directed Pension Schemes (Amps) as an example of a trade body that engages with both those whose provide personal pension products and those who use them.

The platforms market already has the UK Platform Group (UKPG), which launched in 2014 to replace another platforms trade body that lacked membership. 

But Abraham Okusanya, director at investment research consultancy FinalytiQ, said body "has not done much", adding there remains scope for a new player to take its place.

“UKPG barely got off the ground. I think there's a room for the platform sector to work together and deal with issues around share classes, asset transfer between platforms amongst several issues.”

The UK Platform Group declined to comment when contacted by FTAdviser.

A former member of the group, who did not want to be named, said that it has "deliberately not tried to be a trade association or duplicate other activities carried out by other trade bodies" and has avoided a public profile.

They added that it had been a "good, effective" body on issues like client money, acting as a point of contact with the FCA, and engaging in cross-industry initiatives.

UK Platform Group aims to pick up issues not addressed by other associations that platforms may be involved with, like the Wealth Management Association (WMA) or the Tax Incentivised Savings Association (TISA), as well as to act as a single point of contact for regulators or government, and to help ensure that initiatives run by other trade bodies consider issues of platforms.

The group does not employ any full time employees, unlike a regular trade body, and so avoids a public profile as it does not have the resources to respond to queries.