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Platform tech firms fight it out for client wins

Technology - thumbnailPlatform technology provider Bravura is not concerned about the dominance of rival FNZ in the market, saying the companies’ differing business models mean they attract different clients.

In the UK advised platform market, Bravura is currently running the technology upgrades for Fidelity Fundsnetwork and Royal London-owned platform Ascentric. Nucleus also uses Bravura software.

However, competitor FNZ has been in the spotlight this year for the dominant role it is taking in providing the software for investment platforms. Among its projects are Old Mutual Wealth’s replatforming which it took from IFDS in May, the Vanguard direct-to-consumer platform and the new Embark platform.

It also acquired Aviva as a client from Bravura in 2015 and runs the Standard Life, Elevate and Zurich platforms.

Bravura EMEA business development head Kirsty Worgan says FNZ differs from Bravura and competitor GBST because FNZ offers administration services as well as providing the technology.

She says: “It tends to be on what model [the platforms] want. If the investment platform wants to do administration in-house and just wants to buy the technology then they would choose us or GBST.

“If someone wants an FNZ, they won’t come to us because they want administration.”

Asked if FNZ winning a lot of contracts recently is an indicator that more platforms want a holistic offering that covers administration and technology, Worgan says that some of the contracts FNZ has picked up were already outsourced and so it was just a change of provider.

She says: “All providers and platforms look at their requirements holistically and then decide which elements they consider as [a unique selling proposition] and want to do themselves, and which they want to outsource.”

Those elements could be either web, back office, tools and calculators or reporting as well as different aspects of the administration.

Worgan adds: “Similar to the wider financial services market, the operating models of all platforms – both from a technology and admin perspective – are different, which is in part how they differentiate themselves.”

As well as the UK, Australian Stock Exchange-listed Bravura has a presence in the Asia Pacific region, South Africa and Europe.

Worgan says Bravura has a number of deals it is yet to announce, but not in the UK-advised platform space.

Platform technology providers are also coming under the regulator’s gaze in its platform market study, and Worgan says Bravura has responded to the FCA’s terms of reference. In the study the FCA will look at whether third-party technology providers make entry and expansion easier or harder.

Bravura wants the FCA to keep in mind there are more players in the platform tech market than the three or four companies that get most of the publicity.

Worgan says it is important for the regulator to understand the different business models, and that some platforms decide to develop some parts of the platform themselves; for example, the web front end.

Worgan said she was unable to give an update the Ascentric and Fundsnetwork replatforming projects because of non-disclosure agreements.

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