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Standard sets wrap mark

When the results of the 2006 e-Excellence study were published in May for the second year in a row, we were not able to award an eee rating to any wrap provider. Two providers, Standard Life and Lifetime, did however manage to achieve the next best thing – an ee+ rating.

I wrote at the time that I fully expected there to be intense competition between wrap providers to be the first such organisation to achieve the eee award. A few weeks ago, we received a revised submission from Standard Life based on its latest service enhancements which has indeed broken through the benchmark so it has become the first organisation on which we are able to bestow this accolade.

Given the considerable prestige that accrues with this rating, it was, of course, appropriate that FTRC should audit the entry thoroughly and as a result I spent an afternoon in Edinburgh recently going through the finer points of the recent changes.

This was the third occasion that I have had hands-on experience of the system. The first was before we released the original ratings earlier in the year when it was already clear that the company was building a service that delivers an enhanced proposition not only to advisers but, most importantly, to consumers.

Many different flavours of wrap are currently being promoted in the market, with different propositions having varying key attributes. I believe the model being adopted by Standard Life has far more mileage in it than many others as it seems to meet the needs of both the high-net-worth/wealth management market and the mass affluent community, thus having the potential to achieve the scale that will be necessary to drive down charges and deliver real economies for consumers.

The extent of the savings that the wrap can deliver is simple to document using the charges calculator I wrote about in my main column last week (see Money Marketing November 23, page 44).

One of the most impressive features that has been put together to support Standard Life’s wrap is the data extraction service. This enables advisers to extract information in detail from their client management system to identify clients who might be suitable for the wrap and then to build campaigns around converting these customers to wrap clients. This involves a three-part service. First, the adviser logs onto wrap-pro.com and downloads the data extraction component.

If the adviser has one of the major client management systems that Standard Life has been working with, this will identify the database being used by the adviser and extract the necessary client information from the database. The adviser is then invited to rationalise the data to be extracted by choosing which clients they want to move to the wrap platform for quotation purposes.

At this point, the system then matches the fund’s records extracted from the client management system to the funds available on the platform. This includes the full universe of funds, that is, core funds, platform funds and whole of market. The matching process gives an indication of the confidence of matching in a table which the adviser can review and, in so doing, select the information they want to move across.

This service has already been put in place for advisers using 1st, X-Ware (formerly JCS Systems) and Sirius databases. I understand a separate standalone extract facility has been put in place for Quay users and that further work is in hand to deliver similar capacity to Intelliflo and Plum users.

This is by far the best data migration service I have seen put in place by any of the wrap players currently operating in the market. It is not just a simple lift of a few key fields but a detailed mapping of essential data from the adviser’s core system. For any adviser actively using one of the client management systems listed, this should deliver a massive advantage both to Standard Life and the adviser firm. While this is undoubtedly impressive, I still feel that it is essential that two-way data migration be offered so Standard Life must not rest on its laurels. If delivering such detailed one-way data extraction is a major achievement, providing a two-way mechanism would probably amount to the killer application, allowing advisers to be confident that they could always have any data where it was most efficient for the advice process either in the wrap or client management system.

Currently, there is no doubt in my mind that Standard Life has built the wrap platform against which all others should be judged. It deserves considerable credit but I am equally sure that having attained such an elevated position, it will have to work hard to keep it as the wrap market gets ever more competitive daily.

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