Steve Owen, Head of Elevate Platform Propositions at Standard Life discusses what really matters when coming to a decision on what platform is right for advisers and their clients.
Selecting a platform partner, it’s a massive decision for advisers and their clients. It takes time and effort to make the right choice and once you’ve chosen, you might be forgiven for not wanting to think about it again for a while.
But it’s not a once in a lifetime decision. The FCA has been quite clear that you need to be able to demonstrate that the platform(s) you use meet the ongoing needs of your clients. Due diligence reviews should be a regular occurrence to validate that your platform still fits the bill.
So when it comes to selecting or reviewing a platform, what is it that should really matter?
In these economically volatile times, what is it that should give you confidence that a platform is financially secure?
The size of the platform provider, its balance sheet and the strength of the brand behind it are all key factors. Larger organisations with stronger balance sheets are more able to weather a storm and brand strength helps protect market position.
You might also want to consider the platform provider’s commitment to the market. You’ll want to know that they are in it for the long term and that they see their platform as a key pillar of their organisation’s future success. You’ll want confidence that they will continue to improve and develop their platform solution to improve outcomes for both you and your clients.
It’s important to choose a platform that won’t fall down when it comes to service, one with efficient systems and processes, one you can rely on to deliver what you and your clients need. It doesn’t matter how good the online technology is, we all know that there are times when you have to pick up the phone and talk things through with somebody who has the knowledge and experience to understand where you’re coming from. So the quality of the people providing the service is also key.
We all know that we’re working in an increasingly regulated world, with new regulatory requirements coming in all the time. When you’re choosing a platform, you’ll want to look for a provider that keeps ahead of the game as far as regulation is concerned and is committed to meeting evolving adviser and client needs.
If you have high net worth clients with complex financial planning needs, then you’ll need a platform which can deliver sophisticated wealth management solutions. Whereas, if you’re looking for a secure and flexible proposition to deliver financial planning solutions to clients with less complex needs, then you’ll need a different kind of proposition. These different propositions are likely to come with different price tags – but it’s not just about price, it’s also about value for money and what your platform can do for you and your clients.
There are a number of agencies that can really help with validating your platform choices. AKG provide an excellent all round business ratings service with Defaqto providing real insight into the quality of service delivered. These can be helpful in evaluating platforms, especially when taken alongside ratings from some of the firms that take a view of the broader view of financial stability such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.
Standard Life’s Elevate platform offers a competitive proposition across all of these areas. It’s our core financial planning platform proposition. It’s designed to support the large range of planning, tax and investment management activities within UK adviser businesses. As a Standard Life platform, it has a well-recognised brand and a financially strong parent; it offers exceptional value for money for advisers’ clients.
And don’t just take our word for it – Elevate has been awarded an A for financial strength by AKG, secured an AdviserAsset Platinum Rating, a Defaqto 5 Star functionality rating and Gold Service Award.
This independent verification along with the future investment that we’re committed to is why we believe Elevate offers an excellent proposition for you and your clients.
The information in this article should not be regarded as financial advice. Please remember that the value of your investment can go down as well as up and may be worth less than you paid in. Information is based on our understanding in February 2019.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not Standard Life. Standard Life accepts no responsibility for advice that may be formulated on the basis of this information.