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Quilter replatforming bill rises again

Platform costsNational investment and advice business Quilter will spend another £25m on finishing its delayed replatforming project, financial results released this morning show.

While the business formerly known as Old Mutual Wealth says it is making “good progress”, with final software testing in progress and validation of migration data nearing completion, initial migration is still not expected until early 2020 with all business only due to move across next summer.

The firm admits a three month delay is in the works. However, when it switched the technology provider on the upgrade from IFDS to FNZ in 2017, it anticipated the FNZ-backed platform to be operational for new business by late 2018 or early 2019 with migration to follow after that.

The replatforming project dates back at least three years now. As at May 2017, Old Mutual Wealth had spent £330m on the upgrade, with between £120m and £160m in additional budget earmarked when IFDS was switched to FNZ that month.

The results this morning confirm the £25m in extra spending comes on top of the £160m already spent, with additional call centre capacity and technical support to ensure a “focus on delivering the new platform and the associated migration safely and securely”.

The first six months of the year have seen lower flows onto the platform from both restricted advisers and IFAs “due to market uncertainty”, the firm says.

Chief executive Paul Feeney says: “While we have encountered some short-term delays, we are focussed on ensuring the programme is implemented to our desired quality and still expect to complete the programme by this time next year.”

The firm’s results add: “The lessons learned from our soft-launch phase have been valuable and we are delighted with the improved functionality that the new platform delivers. In addition, our plans to ensure our customers and advisers are prepared for the migration are progressing well.

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“As we enter the final phase of this programme we look forward to the significant benefits that the new platform will bring to customers, our advisers and our business. We remain completely confident that this programme will deliver enhanced functionality, superior performance and will contribute considerably to our market competitiveness.”

Quilter’s near term agenda outlined in the half-year results lists the successful platform implementation as the firm’s top priority.

One source familiar with the replatforming tells Money Marketing: “The timescales were always ridiculous. They effectively said they were going to deliver it in a third less time as Aviva, and look how that turned out.”

Quilter has also announced the sale of Quilter Life Assurance to ReAssure this morning for £425m, noting that the ability it has to manage the closed life book cost efficiently is reduced as the new platform nears completion.

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