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Wraps set up platform for the future

The wrap world lurched forward with a number of new entrants into the market.

The sector is set to lose a company though, with Old Mutual’s acquisition of Skandia resulting in the two platforms being combined. The merger aims to create a totally open architecture wrap proposition in early 2008.

In terms of the other firms in the market, both Cofunds and Fidelity hit the 10bn target, with the market forecast to grow exponentially for the foreseeable future, as IFAs get more comfortable with managing clients’ portfolios using technology.

Standard Life’s wrap launch polarised the market between staunch fans and those resisting the new entrant for its failure to disclose charges clearly.

September saw the launch of the first platform committee, comprising Cofunds, Fidelity FundsNetwork, Skandia, Selestia and Standard Life.

The collective, which is backed by the Investment Management Association, plans to develop industrywide standards, including better reporting of fund sales and tackling the contentious issue of platform-to-platform re-registration that is vexing IFAs.

Abbey relaunched its offering under the brand James Hay, mirroring the approach taken by its Sipp. The platform will be underpinned by Infocomp technology, set to provide a strong foundation for its new generation that will be available from mid 2007.

Norwich Union is bringing Lifetime in house as it undergoes a rethink. The platform has morphed through many a facade in recent times and NU has decided it is time to settle things down by bringing the proposition in house and capitalise on the backing of the insurance company, which it says reassures IFAs.

And finally, adviser-owned wraps have been the latest thing to take this space by storm, with Ascentric and Nucleus Financial both unveiling their new breed of platform.

The shift in strategy is aiming for quality and ensuring control remains with the IFA rather than in the hands of a big provider. “Reclaim those assets” has been the IFA-led mantra of the year.

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