"It's interesting to look back: there has been so much change in the last ten years. When I joined, we didn't even have a platform: it was early 2006 and wrap was still being set up. Back then, a lot of places didn't even have broadband and it took ages for each page to load.
The first version had less options. The focus was getting new clients onto the platform. We didn't have the functionality to support bulk rebalancing, for example – that development came later.
A lot of money was invested in the creation of the wrap platform but it was worth it because we delivered what advisers needed. At the start it felt like we were playing catch up – constantly trying to build and deliver the basics. We launched the Leading Platform Programme and led the way on the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) implementation too.
That's one of its strengths – the constant evolution and the support we provide to the advisers. At the moment, it's the performance reporting since the latest release in May.
I'm seeing a shift as firms realise they need to gear up for the increasing demands of their clients because of the ageing population. It takes more time to advise on and review portfolios for those who want to use the flexibility of pensions freedoms and manage their income tax-efficiently.
It's important to remember that the wrap platform isn't just a piece of 'kit' – we don't hand it over and let advisers just get on with it. We are business partners, understanding client needs, supporting the advisers and looking ahead to anticipate changes. It's an on-going relationship and this part is critical to our success as change is constant in our industry and it's a challenge for advisers to meet the shifting demands of their clients and the regulator.
I get to speak to people at all levels of businesses about the wrap platform, which is a real privilege. People have very high expectations in terms of usability and want things to be very straightforward. The wrap platform is incredibly sophisticated and enables advisers to manage and review diverse portfolios across multiple products for each of their individual clients as their needs change over time. Clients need to be able to trust their adviser and wrap enables advisers to deliver on their promises to clients which builds the relationship and the trust.
It's great to get that positive feedback about the platform – and advisers are so passionate about doing the right thing for their clients. But my favourite part of the job is problem solving. Because then you have the satisfaction that you've made a difference: to Standard Life, the adviser – and most of all to the end client.
It's easy to forget the end clients as you don't have direct contact, but when you hear about how you've taken the weight off someone's shoulders by making their financial life easier, that's what makes it all worthwhile. One example was a client who had the responsibility for managing the care home fees for an elderly relative and she was incredibly burdened by the worry of the money running out. With her online client access she could see exactly how much the portfolio was worth and how the investments were performing as well as viewing the withdrawals out to the bank account to pay the fees. This gave her the reassurance she needed when she needed it and that's the difference that wrap can make."