CFS to provide platform analytics to advisers

CFS products and investments general manager Peter Chun.


By Julie May

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Colonial First State (CFS) is in the initial stages of rolling out analytical data to aligned and non-aligned advisers using its FirstChoice and FirstWrap platforms, the group has revealed.

In an interview with financialobserver, CFS products and investments general manager Peter Chun said technology and data were currently a major focus point for the organisation.

“More and more platform businesses are having to step up their support services to advisers in order to make the delivery of advice more effective and efficient,” Chun said, highlighting that greater tools and access to information were key factors.

He said due to the sheer number of advisers using CFS platforms, the group was in an ideal position to provide advisers with data analytics based on information derived through its platforms, which would give a broad overview of market trends.

“We have a number of data specialists in-house which the business can draw upon,” he said.

“By aggregating and analysing platform data and providing it to users, we can add huge value to advisers using both our FirstChoice and FirstWrap platforms.

“If there are insights we can leverage at an aggregate level, we will make that available because we want to be a provider that offers greater intelligence, information and education.”

CFS was in the early stages of prototyping platform data reports, with initial feedback from advisers very positive, he said.

He said the analytics would be available to all CFS platform users and the information was largely targeted at boutique and independent advisers, who made up the majority of CFS platform users.

Across the CFS FirstChoice and FirstWrap platforms the group had about $90 billion in funds under administration, he said.

He said the market comprised somewhere between 15,000 and 18,000 advisers, and around 7000 to 7500 of those advisers used CFS platforms, which was the highest in terms of market usage, according to Investment Trends.

“We have approximately 1650 advisers working across aligned licensees [of CFS parent company Commonwealth Bank of Australia], which include Commonwealth Financial Planning, Count Financial and Financial Wisdom, so the majority of our platform users are actually external,” he said.

“CFS’s heritage was largely focused on the independent financial adviser market and our success in being the most widely used platform provider to date has really come down to our focus on service, with the ability to provide analytics just another step forward.”

When asked about the product range CFS offered through its platforms, following a number of big institutions being questioned about whether their platforms favoured products manufactured by their parent company, he said CFS could not have high adviser satisfaction levels without variety.

“Our support from the independent planning community comes down to offering product choice on platforms, in addition to quality services, efficiency and easy-to-use tools,” he said.

“We clearly don’t just offer our own products and that has been testament to why we’ve had such strong adviser satisfaction across the board.”

On the topic of traditional platforms being stifled by legacy systems, he said again that was not an issue for CFS.

“The evolution of our two platforms has stemmed from organic growth. We have not acquired other platforms or providers like other major players,” he said, pointing out there were two, not multiple, core systems that sat behind CFS platforms.

Meanwhile, the business last week announced it would make annuities available through its FirstWrap and FirstChoice platforms mid-2015 in what the company said would be an Australian first.

CFS said the annuity products that would be made available would be provided by Challenger and CommInsure, which together comprised more than 70 per cent of the Australian annuity market.

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