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The Platforum on Aviva: Advisers are dealing with a different animal

Aviva’s platform proposition had a difficult start in life with the failed launch of its Lifetime brand. Today, the insurance giant’s wrap looks rather different

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Aviva had a difficult start in life when initially exploring the platform market. Under the Norwich Union brand, the Lifetime platform experienced significant administration issues costing the firm millions of pounds and eventually closure of the platform to new business in 2007.

Fast-forward to today and advisers are dealing with a very different animal. Having given up trying to do administration and technology in-house, the platform now outsources admin to Citi and uses Bravura’s software to power the proposition.

Aviva has worked hard over the past four years to shake off its difficult history and is starting to see positive results from the advisers using it. Talking to advisers who used the platform over four years ago, it was common for the feedback to be pretty poor, sometimes even hostile. 

Now we hear more firms starting to register this platform as a serious low-cost, simple alternative proposition for some customer segments. Recent comments from advisers are almost entirely positive and we expect to see Aviva continue to climb our User Leaderboard if it manages to maintain the goodwill of its users – no small task.

The group appears buoyant about the future too. According to research conducted by Aviva, it is expecting a surge in adviser assets coming on to platforms in the next three years, with 70 per cent of advisers set to move the majority of their assets on to platforms. Our own research and data certainly seems to concur with these findings.

Although £3.3bn is still very small for a firm of Aviva’s size, asset figures have tripled over 18 months and we suspect it will leapfrog other platforms with similar AUA should they maintain current momentum. Larger life company platforms should take note of the strategic developments and positioning which have worked well for the York-based firm. 

Net sales are strong as a proportion of total sales – also an indicator of a platform in the ascendancy. The challenge will be maintaining service levels as the platform
grows assets.

Platforum

ADVISER VIEWS

PenLife IFA Tom Hughes

Tom

“It is simple to use. In comparison with our other platform, Standard Life, there is less keying in for quotes, for example. It also allows us to white-label the platform which is nice, particularly where people are accessing it via our website.

Life Planning Solutions paraplanner Tracy Simpson

Tracy

“We find it very easy to use. We get good support from our BDM but sometimes if we have an issue and call to resolve a problem, we have to wait for a call back to get it sorted. Initially there was no CGT calculator but that was soon introduced.”

Holly Mackay is managing director at The Platforum 

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Comments

There are 5 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. It will be interesting to see the actual figures Aviva Platform pulls in through their partial ownership of Tenet Group and Tenet Connect Services Ltd – where advisers can churn business into one or other of the wrap accounts owned by the insurance companies Stran Dread Life Aviva Aegon and Friends Life ?

  2. The only animal I can think of when AVIVA is mentioned is a Sloth.

  3. I am most grateful to Platforum for their continued work on the quality and ownership of platforms. It is clear that the Chartered Insurance Industry ( CII ) and their members – have been caught with their pants down ( or sloth ) in breaking away from their desires to retain with profits – mainly because of the opportunities to hide costs expenses and bonuses – and cross subsidise their failures form policyholders investments ( see previous article on Scottish Widows – and management failures ). The attempts to switch to “pensionbuilder” type funds or other form of unitised with profits – for insurance companies to protect their complex – opaque charges and lack of open and transparent charges – has meant advisers have been able to move people to platforms – who provide great administration and deliver superb service for advisers and clients. I have been most grateful to platforms (E.g. Co Funds now owned by L& G Fidelity Funds – now being controlled by Standard Life and Independent platforms such as Transact and others who have entered the market ) for the help the administration and the qualified employees who are committed to customer service. For the record, when Scottish Widows refused to provide an agency in 1995 – and continue to refuse to date I was delighted to find other companies who wanted to act in a reasonable and responsible manner – and who are committed to creating wealth for custoemrs – rather than Rip Them Off with extortionate high charges – some of which was passed to the advisers by way of commissions ( see previous article on Commissions in excess of Lautro eg Scottish widows paying 168 % – to their “patsy” advisers who did as they were told, believed everything they were told, by Scottish widows . . . and in return . . . who promised . . . . .) and management agreements with advisers and Scottish widows senior management and pension con sult ants. It is interesting that insurance companies through their Trade Union the ABI – have found out that Transact and others ( who offer Independent administration and great service ) are now playing catch up – too little too late eg Standard Life – and they have discovered the opportunities to obtain ” Funds under management ” – by purchasing IFA and Tied Agents, Restricted Advisers practices – to assist with Churning the business to pay for the ” payments ” eg I understand Standard Life can pay up to 4% initial – which may be used to deceive clients . . . . . into believing – they have paid for the advice up front usually 3% and they pay again up to 4% – which ” may be discounted “, and held up to be attractive – and deceive the client into paying twice.
    In my opinion the insults hurled by Mr Wheatley, as Heid Regulator at the FCA against IFA’s is deliberately designed to destroy the TRUST built up between advisers with their clients – to redirect business to the ABI members – the insurance companies who have already deceived consumers – with false and misleading information on Endowments . . spurious claims on pension returns. Like the insolvent Banks and their incredible extortion and predatory strategies against their clients – their misleading advertising eg TSB new accounts Santander 123 for which you can have many accounts – it is clear the insurance industry and the banks have the backing of Government and their Regulator – to continue to induce ” churning ” business – a result of the horrendous tax paid by individuals and businesses . . . and the New Tax Auto Enrolment – which forces companies to place their business through insolvent insurance companies . . .like Scottish Widows – or the poor service provided by Friends Provident . This is forced pensions enrolment – over and above National Insurance in other words DOUBLE TAXATION – perpetrated by Conservative Government – and carried out by insurance companies – as they say You have got to suck up to insurance companies as a result of the Stick and the carrot method – you have got to be in it to win it . . . . . then what ?
    Good Independent Wrap accounts are most useful for those who are client focussed. This does not include banks or insurance companies – as we see from their abysmal service – lack of formal complaints procedures and lack of fully trained employees. Put simply there is little competition for St James Place and Hargreaves Lansdowne – and the copy cat insurance companies – who refuse to provide service – are now required to purchase business to let them look attractive or solvent in the manipulated figures in their finalised annual accounts . Guidance is a great way to go No Compliance ! No Fees ! No Restrictive Trade Practices – employed by the FCA . . . . . . . .just simple trust between client and guidance officer / individual eg employers of Auto Enrolled pension arrangements ? I wonder which is best guidance or No Guidance ? Advice or No Advice ? The problem is that will people accept gifting their money to an insurance company – who lacks care – refuses to work in the clients best interest uppermost – and who deceive and undermine the FCA Independent Financial Advisers must ask – Are they Fit For Purpose ? I asked this question of Scottish widows when they stole my cash equivalent . . .my conclusion is Scottish widows is not fit for purpose – and as a result have had no business since 1995 – and much transferred away because of the inertia and refusal of the Actuaries and Management ( Board of Directors and Chairman ) – to rectify their Fraud, their deceit or repair their broken promises or their integrity . . . As Sandy Hogg SWF management confirmed we can do what we like with your Final Salary scheme – up to age 65 . . . .as I said I will be better off at Hargreaves Lansdowne Good service good returns and I can Trust them to deal appropriately and without prejudice and bias and conflicts of interest . . . because they are Independent . . .and I am willing to pay for such a service . . . . . This is the benefit of dealing with a Proper Independent Platform which you can Trust in so many ways . .openness, transparency, service, delivery and returns . . . it does what is says on the tin !

  4. Aviva have improved? They must of been dreadful before as they are completely hopeless now!!

  5. This is not the experience of my company. I dread to think of the responses you would get if you asked our processing team.

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