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Editor’s note: Platforms must remember their core purpose

Welcome back to Money Marketing in 2018, I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year’s break. We’re straight back into the swing of things, and our first feature of the year focuses in on the services platforms offer to advisers.

I remain frequently surprised by the pace and depth of innovation in a financial advice market regularly branded stale. This is most true of the platform space – a market that is still embryonic, with high barriers to entry, and technological complexity waiting to trip even the most established incumbents up at every turn.

Platforum’s latest functionality tables reveal a far wider set of offerings than many realise. When it comes to investment choice, for example, availability can range from vanilla equities and bonds, to unlisted securities, property authorised investment funds and multi-currency share classes.

(Speaking of investment choice, we have now also completed our integration with sister title Fund Strategy, so visit Money Marketing’s investment section to see some great new content and keep your eye out for more. For those who missed our online coverage of the switch, we decided to incorporate Fund Strategy’s expertise into the Money Marketing team to provide you with the best possible coverage of investment planning and wealth management strategies as trends towards discretionary management and vertical integration continue.)

Adviser platforms are also competing on their range of tax wrappers – though just one offers the Lifetime Isa to date – and adviser functionality, for example, over trade and pension tax relief pre-funding, fractional share trading and natural income payments.

But as the range of services platforms offer has expanded, the frequency with which service issues are reported by advisers appears to have increased.

Whether there is a causal correlation between the two, or it is a product of re-platforming projects or taking on more assets is unclear. Yet advisers and market insiders speaking to Money Marketing are clear on one thing: platforms need to stick to their knitting.

It is all very well having bells and whistles, but they can’t come at the expense of what a platform’s core purpose should be: easing the administrative burden on advisers and therefore the cost to clients. Some functionalities are excellent optional extras, but that is all they are. If they add to the client’s cost and aren’t used by advisers, then they have little reason to be there.

Fortunately, platforms are wising up to this fact. Advisers are hoping that they can live up to that promise in 2018.

Justin Cash is editor of Money Marketing. Follow him on Twitter @Justin_Cash_1


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