Transact trailblazed wrap platforms back in 2000 and, as an independent player, has been the IFAs’ darling for many years. With £15.11bn assets under administration as at December 2013, it was the sixth-largest adviser platform, with all assets coming from advisory business, unlike some of their larger multi-faceted competitors.
If you ask advisers about Transact you are likely to hear two things: “The service from staff is excellent” and “They’re a bit pricey”.
Transact remains one of the (if not the) leading platforms when it comes to customer service. It has small regional teams whose names are mostly known by name to their adviser users, and few platforms come close to it for providing help and advice on demand.
Service levels have remained consistently high. Advisers value the speed of service from staff as well as their levels of knowledge in rectifying problems.
The platform has always offered a wide suite of tax wrappers and investments that go beyond just mutual funds. Transact is agnostic about what investments are purchased on-platform. It plays no role in fund selection or screening and is often one of the first ports of call for managers who want to make less mainstream brands available.
In a world that is becoming restricted and where platforms and investments are converging, we see a continued role for an administration platform that specialises in supporting independent advisers and those requiring asset variety.
Price remains the albatross around Transact’s neck. It is at the expensive end of the pricing spectrum.
Many advisers use Transact as a single platform. There’s no blanket rule to say this is inappropriate but we think advisers using Transact for smaller accounts need to be clear they are assessing suitability at individual client account level and not at total adviser practice level.
With a market for smaller Transact shareholdings being promoted, questions about valuation, future ownership and structure remain as hot on the gossip mill as they have been for the past five years.
Although Transact is certainly a stable and profitable business, its idiosyncratic culture and fiercely loyal adviser base present interesting challenges to potential suitors, who will inevitably be cast in a different mould.
Holly Mackay is managing director of The Platforum
Page Russell director Tim Page:
Transact is excellent if there is ever a problem. They will always call to resolve things, which is a rarity among some competitors. They also make any changes to the platform very quickly. For example, they made the updates following the Budget faster than than anyone else I saw. Cost is their main drawback but it is coming down.
Aurora Financial Planning chartered financial planner Aj Somal:
What Transact do well is make a wide range of investments available. That is their main strength. But it is not the cheapest for smaller portfolios and I find the system slightly antiquated in comparison to other platforms.