View more on these topics

Platforum: Have we reached the consolidation tipping point?

Heather Hopkins

Just when financial professionals thought lack of sunscreen was their biggest worry, the world’s stockmarkets have been thrown into turmoil. Economic woes in China, fragility in the US and uncertainty in Europe may well drive investors out of funds, which spells bad news for the investment industry.

But despite these woes, we are confident on the future for the adviser platform market and optimistic for double-digit growth for the year. After all, Q1 was strong, with assets under administration up 8 per cent. In our Q2 report, released this week, we highlight the fact the adviser platform market grew by 1 per cent. A more modest figure perhaps but heading in the right direction nonetheless.

For sale

In the news last week, Axa has put its UK wealth management business Axa Wealth up for sale. Following a shaky 2014, its platform Elevate has had a good first half this year.

Assets are up, the platform is growing quicker than the competition and adviser reviews are positive. But with Cofunds and Elevate now on the block and Transact only recently taken off the market, we wonder if we have reached the tipping point in terms of consolidation.

We will watch sales figures closely for both Elevate and Cofunds. One in 10 advisers tell us they are transferring assets from at least one of the market’s platforms. Half of these are planning to move assets from Cofunds.

When we fielded our survey in late June/early July, news had only just broken about a potential sale, so even before it was announced, the platform struggled more than others to hold onto assets. The added uncertainty over ownership will simply not
help matters.

In other news, Zurich and Standard Life each added over £1bn in net sales for the quarter. This was the second consecutive quarter with net sales over £1bn for the latter. Other standouts were AJ Bell, Aviva and Aegon. Among the smaller players, Novia, Parmenion and Alliance Trust Savings all enjoyed above average AUA growth.

Pension reforms

The pension reforms are seen to be a big driver of growth for platforms in the coming years and, indeed, advisers tell us nearly two-thirds of former annuity assets are going into advised drawdown.

Nearly one- quarter of former annuity assets are going to annuities and only 6 per cent to cash. This data differs from figures published recently by the Association of British Insurers that show much higher shares for cash and annuities. The ABI data is not whole of market and neither is ours.

Our data is based on the opinion of financial advisers (who would tend to deal with larger pension pots) and is in line with what the platforms we spoke with are seeing. We expect the share of assets going to advised drawdown will continue to rise for advised assets.

In terms of the products being recommended in light of pension freedoms, equity funds and multi-asset income top the list with around three-quarters of advisers. Target date funds and structured products have not gained much traction with advisers, with 85 per cent saying they are unlikely to recommend them or are neutral towards them.

As this column went to press, markets appeared to be recovering. US stocks are up, China’s regained a tad and the relief is spreading to Europe. There is also less need for sunscreen in Blighty. Still, let’s hope the good news continues.

Heather Hopkins is research director at Platforum

These issues and more will be discussed at Platforum’s conference on 1 October at the Business Design Centre in London:



Govt urged to lift Pension Wise restrictions

Savers should be able to access more than one free session of face-to-face pension guidance from Pension Wise, Citizens Advice has told MPs. In its written evidence submission to the Work and Pensions select committee, filed ahead of today’s oral evidence sessions, Citizens Advice says restrictions on appointments should be lifted. Citizens Advice chief executive […]


Platforum: Can D2C select lists replace professional fund pickers?

The robo-adviser debate rumbles on with Brewin Dolphin the latest to soft-launch such a service at a much lower price to its traditional discretionary service. However, is there is a low cost alternative involving active funds through the use of D2C select lists? For DIY propositions to appeal beyond the most confident investment pickers, they […]


Succession targets 50 acquisitions by 2017

Four firms have joined Succession Advisory Services as members, with Succession planning to acquire 50 of its best performing members in the next two years. The firm has today announced its four latest members, boosting combined assets under management by £400m to a total of £10.5bn. The new memberss are Harrogate-based Prosperitas Financial Solutions, Retford-based […]

Ros Altmann

Conservative minister Ros Altmann expelled from Labour party

Pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann has been expelled from Labour after it was discovered she was a party member while holding her post in the Conservative Government, the Huffington Post UK reports. The website quotes a Labour source saying Altmann “has been a fully paid-up member since March 2014 – until we expelled her today”. […]

Guide front cover - thumbnail

Guide: how to… audit your auto-enrolment scheme compliance

As the Pensions Regulator starts to bare its teeth and the changes mentioned in the Budget and Queen’s Speech start to come into force, it is essential that you understand your scheme and the processes you need to undertake to ensure it remains compliant. Our second re-enrolment guide looks at how to audit the key areas of your auto-enrolment scheme.


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm