Although it is not a main selling point, the level of support available to advisers could have a long-term impact on a platform’s success.
Although platforms are focusing on price and the extra level of efficiency they can offer advisers, any platform that consistently fails to deliver good-quality service can expect to see adviser numbers and assets start to leak away, particularly after a workable system of re-registration is brought in.
This year’s Investment Trends wrap and platform survey shows that adviser support services overall have improved in the past 12 months. The top five platforms in the four areas featured here have all seen a significant improvement compared with 2011, suggesting a general trend for improvement across the board.
Novia ranks top for business development manager support with 86 per cent of advisers ranking it good or very good. It also features in the top five for the other three categories.
Nucleus also appears in all four categories and performs well in administrative accuracy and telephone support.
Transact is ranked as the top platform for overall support, administrative accuracy and telephone support, although it drops out of the top five for BDM support.
Ascentric features strongly in this area, making the top five for administrative accuracy, telephone and BDM support and Standard Life Wrap is ranked in the top five for telephone and BDM support.
True Potential, Elevate and Skandia all feature once in the adviser top fives, the first two for adviser support services overall and Skandia for administrative accuracy.
Standard Life also ranks in the top five for BDM support and telephone support, but loses the telephone support top spot it held in 2011.
Skandia has seen a significant fall in the majority of the areas compared with 2011, where it ranked second for administrative accuracy and fourth for adviser support services overall.
However, there is concern in the market that pressure on profit margins could have a detrimental effect on quality of service once platforms stop trying to build up their assets under administration.
Evolve Financial Planning director Jason Witcombe says: “Once all the music stops with the moving from one place to another, most of them are left without enough money to make them really viable. They probably all have a reasonable amount of capacity but there is a bit of a price war at the moment – someone will win, but it probably will not do the other platforms much good.”