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Quilter eyes higher-value clients with platform upgrade

Platform costsQuilter has said that its new platform will help it win business from higher-net-worth clients by expanding the range of investments available.

The advice and wealth management group formerly known as Old Mutual Wealth says that it is currently in the “soft launch phase” for a new platform.

Assets should be migrated across around autumn, planning for which is “well advanced”, the firm says.

The project hit headlines in 2017 when, after having already spent £330m, Old Mutual decided to terminate its contract with technology provider IFDS and partner with rival FNZ for the replatforming instead.

Initial estimates for the project were £450m in total. At the time of changing provider, Old Mutual estimated costs could come in at between £450m and £490m – an additional £120m to £160m for the remaining work.

Today, Quilter says that “total programme costs [are] currently targeted to be at the upper end of the guidance range”.

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While originally it was supposed to be operational by late 2018 or early 2019, Quilter also says that it is thinking about “adding additional adviser/customer call centre capacity and/or taking a more gradual approach to migration, which could extend the project timeframe slightly”.

The firm adds: “Should we decide that it is in the best interests of both customers and advisers that programme completion is extended into the first half of 2020, we would expect modest additional programme costs, largely reflecting the incremental potential initiatives referenced above and a longer period of dual system running than originally planned.”

Given the need to train advisers and the time required for them to become familiar with the platform, Quilter says it is anticipating a slowdown in new money flows.

The platform saw a 31 per cent decrease in flows in 2018 compared with 2017, results released this morning show, with gross sales down £1.2bn on the back of tougher market conditions and a slowdown in defined benefit transfer activity.

However, Quilter remains confident adding additional platform functionality will help it secure new business.

Quilter chief executive Paul Feeney says: “Our new UK platform, once operational, will allow us immediately to widen the product set we currently offer to include Sipp capabilities, Junior ISAs and cash accounts as well as allowing us to hold a broader spectrum of assets on behalf of clients such as ETFs and investment trust shares.

“This will provide us with the opportunity to target a broader and higher-net-worth customer segment in the UK market than we are currently reaching. It will significantly enhance our position in the UK platform market by providing us with a modern, resilient system built on current technology rather than legacy code as is the case with the current platform.”

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