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Platform puts down a strong foundation

I am a relatively new entrant to the worldof financial advice, having become licensed in January 2003. Because of this, I have had the issues of legacy assets limited to new clients’ existing assets, whichI can acknowledge isa terrific advantage whenit comes to wrap.

Realistically, I can only see a place for three offour platforms in the marketplace.

The reason for this isthat the platform isa homogenous product and to be profitable requires huge amount of assets tobe held on the platform.

This means that the dominant players are ina very good position andit will take a lot for new entrants to be a success. That said, the flexibility of platforms does allow advisers to vote with their feet if platforms do not maintain service levelsand a technological edge.

For our business, there are three key things we are looking for from a wrap – we want to be able to access data easily, process applications efficiently and make fund switches in response to client instructions quickly and accurately. That way, we canrun our business smoothly and efficiently.

At the moment, we are placing new businesswith Selestia Investment Solutions while maintaining our clients that we previously placed onthe Skandia platform.

Selestia allows us to operate predominantly online, with paper back-up where required. It gives usa much more flexible wayof working. For example, we can send most of thekey applications acrossto clients by email.

Just the other day,a client wanted to top upa bond and the process took minutes rather than the days it would have takenin the past.

Our short-term focus is now on the Isa season.Most of our clients are ona monthly contribution to benefit from pound-cost averaging but there are always those that will be knocking on our door as the tax year-end looms and at this stage the ability to invest online is of huge benefit. Then, come the sixth of April, we and our clients can use Selestia’s functionality to transfer funds from existing collectives into the newtax year’s Isa. This is a great piece of tax planningthat would have createda substantial amountof paperwork if we didnot have a platform.

By using a platform,we are able to concentrate on advising on our client rather than selling thema product. Our clients geta fee-based structured approach to their investment which is transparent in costs and readily accessible.

Such a business has strong foundationsto ensure that clientand adviser fortunesare entwined.

Nathan Harris is a chartered financial planner withNorth Star Financial Consultants

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