We have worked with a number of businesses in Australia and have learned some lessons from the long transition they have had.
One of the most important things we have learnt is that the platform is a process and an enabler. Platforms can help ensure that a £100 an hour
resource is doing £100 an hour tasks. At the moment, many IFAs are only spending 10-20 per cent of their week in front of clients.
That said, a platform is an opportunity but not a starting point. Advisers can’t solve their platform dilemma in the same way as a product conversation. They will end up with 10 platforms but they won’t be any more productive. The journey is not driven by what platform.
We have been trying to tell advisers that their core skill lies in face-to-face consultation with clients. They need a new approach to servicing clients. Every adviser business has different staff, different challenges and different clients. The best platform is likely to be guided by the best partnership.
In our conversations with advisers, we have found that the transition process is a bit like giving up cigarettes. Most advisers are not comfortable making the change but they need to do it day by day. It is easier for younger firms than older firms but they are all on the journey. There is no silver bullet.
Most advisers want to be more efficient, they don’t want to lose money and they don’t want to rip off their clients.
The Australian market has made mistakes. For example, we would have thought that advisers would have done much better during the downturn but in spite of all these platforms and enablers, Australian IFAs failed to engage in good conversations with clients when their assets were going south.
We would have thought that the changes would give them more face time with clients to explain the problems. We think that they got a bit fat and happy. They still talked too much about product. As a result, they lost confidence and goodwill.
Choosing a platform provider is a bit like getting fit. If you are just doing it to get through the RDR, you are not going to reap the benefit because you are only doing it because you have been told to. But if you see it as a core part of your proposition, you can expect certain things to be part of that partnership. At the moment, there is too much scrutiny on the engine and not enough on the outcome.
Advisers need objectives and to be clear that in three months, they will have more face-to-face time with clients, for example. If the outcome can’t be measured in three or six months, it needs to be realigned.
No wrap is perfect but the Axa Elevate platform has been built in consultation with advisers. It is part of our partnership approach.
Consultant to Axa