Platforms must do more to provide transparent and consistent information to aid advisers in their due diligence processes, say major providers.
In a debate at the annual Personal Finance Society conference yesterday, Old Mutual Wealth customer director Carlton Hood said platforms need to become “more open” in the information they provide to advisers.
He said: “There is the issue of some commercial sensitivity but if an adviser is bidding for your business and they are lining up two or three providers and asking the same questions, you have got to be prepared to enter into a spirit of confidentiality with them and provide information that is useful.
“If you don’t provide the information it is probably going to be to your detriment in the selection process.”
Aegon UK managing director of retail and intermediaries Duncan Jarrett said most advisers ask similar questions, so platforms should offer “off the page” information that can be provided “almost immediately”.
Zurich UK life chief executive Gary Shaughnessy said platforms need to provide consistent information to allow advisers to compare between providers.
He said: “If I have a different measure of an operational function to other providers, that is not very helpful. That is our problem to deal with so advisers get consistent information to compare platforms.”
He added that platforms need to provide separate information on what is of benefit to the client, and what is of benefit to the adviser.
Last month, FCA technical specialiast Rory Percival warned some advisers were choosing platforms based on their suitability for the advice firm, rather than for the client.
Also at yesterday’s debate, providers said in future platforms will extend beyond investments to potentially incorporate housing wealth, and will introduce capability to allow consumers to transfer pension funds online.
Hood said: “We have got to extend beyond the provision of investments, into tools and helping people put funds together in a way that gives an income.
“We were talking just last week about the changes to inheritance tax and decumulation – if you are wealthy and want to hand money to the next generation, it sort of makes sense for you to take money out of your house before you start spending your pension. What are the implications of that for a platform – could you see an equity release mortgage on a platform?”
Jarrett added: “We have to look at a person’s total wealth to determine their income in retirement, and whether that includes the adviser looking at their property or the property being included in the platform, it’s the same thing.
“Allowing consumers the flexibility to be able to transfer pension funds online will have to come. It is just a case of when, because it would involve a great deal of work.”