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ATS admits replatforming delay in ‘difficult’ upgrade

New platform has taken longer than expected but ATS promises full roll-out is imminent

ATS chief executive Patrick Mill

Alliance Trust Savings has admitted that the launch of its revamped platform has taken longer than it initially expected, but has committed to releasing the full offering to advisers in the next six weeks.

Speaking to Money Marketing, Alliance Trust Savings chief executive Patrick Mill explains the business had hoped to launch its new platform to advisers in the third quarter of 2016.

It is in the process of moving to technology provider GBST from its own technology.

Mill says: “We did a pilot at the beginning of quarter two last year with a small number of advisers to see what they thought and if there were any enhancements. Through that pilot there was a lot of feedback where we needed to do further enhancements and there was further work to do. That delayed the launch.”

He says most of the suggestions from the pilot related to making the platform easier to use.

Mill says: “Model portfolios are new to us and [the advisers] felt some of that journey was quite clunky and not very intuitive. Some of the adviser charging did not offer enough flexibility. It was more around ease of use and the ability to do what they wanted to do on the system easily.”

He adds: “The launch delay was [because], first of all, replatforming is difficult, and, secondly, it was based on the feedback of the pilot that there were a number of things we needed to enhance before we launched.”

Alliance Trust Savings adds DFMs in GBST replatforming

The new platform launched to around 500 existing advisers in April. Mill says a final date has not been set for the full launch but he expects it will be in the next six weeks.

Alliance Trust Savings also stopped accepting new business onto the platform between December 2016 and April 2017 but Mill says it is back up and running now.

He says: “That was part of the process of us needing to make these changes and we needed to be able to focus on making those changes so we took the decision not to accept new business for a short period of time. In April we launched it and we accept new business on it now.”

The migration of assets from the old system to GBST will then follow over the next few months.

The launch delay was [because], first of all, replatforming is difficult

Mill does not expect advisers to be disrupted by the migration of client assets.

He says: “We are talking to advisers about when they would like to be migrated across and we will be doing all of their customers at the same time. We will do it in a couple of tranches.”

Mill says the replatforming project will be the main focus for the rest of the year and does not intend any further changes to pricing beyond changes introduced from February.

However, he says the business is looking at how to make it easier for a customer’s products to be consolidated on the platform.

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Comments

There are 4 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Grant Mitchell 25th May 2017 at 11:40 am

    I would have thought a grovelling apology would be more appropriate, the whole replatforming process has been a Joke and a bad taste one at that, more false promises than a politician over timescales and fixes. Where has this guy been hiding to try and whitewash the horrendous issues…phone calls take up to 55 minutes to be answered, client valuations coming out in US$, fees unpaid, they cant even deal with a complaint properly and on it goes etc etc. I think he should come out and apologise for all of the inconvenience this debacle has caused IFA’s…the migration was forecast for last September, the platform was only supposed to close for a month….and as for keeping anyone informed forget it. No further business will be forthcoming and the existing millions may well be leaving very soon. A perfect example of getting it totally and utterly wrong

  2. @GrantMitchell – your experience sadly mirrors our own. Abysmal management.

  3. @GM, JM – exactly our experience too, it is extremely disappointing. ATS have been an exceptional firm, up until the launch of the new composer platform. The staff have been performing unbelievably well, in what are very difficult circumstances.
    An apology from Patrick Mill would certainly help, especially if it would also lead to the senior management engaging with IFA firms and communicating properly with their customers.
    We will continue to support ATS, because they are an excellent firm, with fantastic staff and a proposition (when it works) that puts customers at the centre of everything they do. If anything, it seems to us they are a victim of their own success.
    Hopefully, things will improve as we are finding it difficult to cope with the amount of time, effort and inconvenience caused by the current problems with the composer platform.
    I would hope too that Alison Fower, Patrick Mill and the rest of the management team take the trouble to thank the staff on the front line for dealing with disgruntled advisers like me, who are completely exasperated by the problems with composer; the missed income payments; the investment trades not processed and the complete lack of communication from the management team.

  4. Oliver Mellors 26th May 2017 at 11:35 am

    Another example of inadequate leadership? Looking at the recent management turnover there and the loss of Tim Tookey as senior independent Director one wonders what the future holds for this business. Rumours of significant technology and testing shortcomings don’t reflect well either. Net result – antagonised clients (see other comments) and a vulnerability that has already extended for too long.

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