We suggest that adviser firms should conduct a thorough review of their selected platform(s) at least once a year, looking at how they fit the client type or segment in question. The FSA has been clear in talking about the importance of suitability. We see in some instances that – especially for those “outlier” clients – what suits one particular client will not be a good match for another. These reviews do not have to be War and Peace but should be documented and demonstrate consideration at the client segment level.
The steer from the FSA here is a good one and one that we perhaps should all think about incorporating into our businesses:
- What are we doing for our clients and what is a fair cost for this?
- Does the service we offer justify our charges?
- Are our clients segmented correctly – does everyone need bells and whistles?
- Does the platform support our chosen investment methodology properly?
We believe that adviser firms must be able to evidence they have kept abreast of any changes in the marketreinforcing the message that current platform partners are still in line with their client service proposition or acknowledging that a new provider has become a bit more appealing.
No one is suggesting that platforms should be “broked” purely on price or that a newcomer should threaten a service model that is delivering well. But the market moves quickly. Sometimes a new player may be compelling – or sometimes their appearance may simply instigate discussions with a current provider around some gaps to fill.
We think it constructive for advisers to review their platform experience at least on an annual basis to ensure platforms are still achieving what they were intended to achieve 12 months ago on selection. Do they still tick the right boxes for clients?
IFAs tell us “there is nothing like user experience” and it is vital to ensure platform partners deliver the proposition intended. We are told some groups overpromise on some of the service functionality aspects such as BDM support or customer service.
If this is a fundamental requirement for the adviser firm, this matters. We think the FSA would like to see evidence that any issue with the platform or wrap provider has been addressed by the adviser firm.
The Platforum has some tools available free of charge on the website to help advisers with this process. Please visit www.theplatforum.com. Our library section will help evidence awareness of changes to the market.
PAT provides data on platform providers and our platforms section provides your peers’ platform ratings and reviews.
Emma Napier, Head of adviser relations, The Platform