He believes some providers may be trying to disintermediate the market by insisting IFAs provide client information in order to use their systems.
Howells says: “There are two elements of value in an IFA business – one is the client and the other is the income. If an IFA has to put their client data on to a platform, there is a risk of disintermediation. My advice to IFAs would be, unless you can keep all of your client data on your back-office system, do not touch that platform.”
He says if advisers have relinquished control of their client data to a provider-owned wrap, the inherent value of their business is vastly reduced. Howells says: “This is likely to have a knock on effect on the saleability of their business.”
Ascentric head of sales Shaun Sandiford says Howells’ concerns are legitimate and it is a possibility that some providers may try to take advisers’ clients on to their books. He says Ascentric, owned by Royal London, will never contact clients directly and if an IFA moves to a different platform, all client data is wiped from the system.
Standard Life head of communications for savings Mark Polson says: “Any adviser can remove any client at any time with no barriers. For us, wrap is an adviser proposition. If we started trying to disintermediate advisers, I think they would know what to do about it.”
Fidelity FundsNetwork and Skandia also deny any risk of the data being used to disintermediate advisers.
Skandia spokesman Charlie Musson says: “This is not something that Skandia is ever going to do. Advisers and clients have complete protection, we would not be able to go to clients directly.”