Elevate, regulation and my other New Year resolutions

At the start of a New Year, our Head of Elevate, Al Ward, discusses his goals over the next few months for how Elevate can continue to support your business and deliver value to your clients.

A belated Happy New Year to you.

When I started in my new role as Head of Elevate a few weeks ago now, my email inbox began to explode with requests, actions, updates and approvals.

Much like conquering a snowy mountain, my preferred out of office activity, I put one foot in front of the other and ploughed on through the avalanche of requests, dealing with what was in front of me, determined to get to the end.

However, unlike mountains, emails never end!

So while I've been working through my inbox, I've been having a think about my New Year resolutions for 2020 and what lies ahead.

I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into this role as I’ve been involved with platforms since the Retail Distribution Review and been with Standard Life for the past ten years, overseeing both regulatory and propositional change.

Working in both adviser- and customer-facing areas of the business has given me a real understanding of the challenges you face as well as the needs of your clients.

So my first resolution is to take all the industry knowledge I have and, with your support, drive a great Elevate proposition, delivering value and service to you and your clients.

Elevate should help meet your needs and your clients' needs

My next resolution is to get out and about and meet with as many of you as possible over the next few months so I can fully understand the current challenges you face and listen to what you need from Elevate.

I want to get an overview of the trends and themes your firms are dealing with and find out more about how you use Elevate and go about setting up your centralised investment and retirement propositions.

How Elevate can support you with SM&CR

I also know that one of the ongoing challenges for your firms is keeping on top of regulation. Elevate has a history of supporting you with compliance, such as MiFID.

One piece of regulation which came into force last month for adviser firms was the FCA’s Senior Manager’s & Certification Regime (SM&CR).

The main goal of SM&CR is to establish positive cultures and effective governance in firms by encouraging greater individual accountability.

The regulation also extends the standards of good personal conduct beyond senior management to individuals at all levels of the firm. You will need to ensure these individuals are aware of the rules and are trained, on an ongoing basis, on how the rules relate to their role.

If you’re a Senior Manager in your firm, as well as dealing with these governance requirements under your SM&CR responsibilities along with PROD, it means you’ll need to be clear on the reasonable steps taken to select Elevate.

As a starting point, you may want to consider your platform’s financial stability. I’m pleased to report that Elevate’s superior AKG A financial strength rating has been retained.

An AKG financial strength rating focuses on the ability of a company to deliver ongoing operational capability in the interest of its customers and in line with their fairly-held expectations. Standard Life’s Elevate and Wrap platforms are the only two platforms in the sector to have achieved an AKG A rating (as at Jan 2020).

We’re continually making improvements to Elevate

My next resolution is to continue to focus on how Elevate can support your business so you can best meet your clients’ needs. We’re constantly making improvements to Elevate including:

At the start of a new year, as clients take stock of their financial position, it makes sense that you are placing your new business on a strong, forward-thinking platform.

My final New Year resolution

Although my New Year resolutions are mainly work focused, my final resolution goes back to my love of hillwalking, especially during the winter.

Despite moving to Scotland from Bristol nearly 16 years ago, I still have quite a few peaks to tick off my bucket list.

Most of my weekends will continue to be taken up with entertaining my four children, but I plan to head for the more challenging hills just as soon as I get the chance - and when there’s some decent snow on the ground!

Maybe I’ll see you up there and we can chat about what’s coming or perhaps you’d like to drop me a note about what areas you’d like to see Elevate focus on.

Either way, it would be great to hear from you.


If you'd like to find out more about how Elevate can help support your business, get in touch

The value of investments can go down as well as up and could be worth less than originally invested.

The views expressed in this blog should not be regarded as financial advice.

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Al Ward, Head of Elevate

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