Independents move up platform ranks


By Elizabeth Somerville

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Independent platform providers have gained traction among financial planners, with netwealth and Hub24 leading the pack, a new report from Investment Trends has revealed.

The “2014 Platform Report” ranked netwealth and Hub24 second and third respectively in terms of overall functionality, with both platforms excelling due to the agility they possessed in making enhancements to their offerings.

“Netwealth and Hub24 are a bit more nimble than established platforms,” Investment Trends senior analyst Recep Peker told financialobserver.

“Big platforms need to put in a lot more consideration to enhancements, [whereas] newer platforms built on newer technology have an advantage.”

Among full-function platforms, netwealth retained its number two spot for the second year in a competitive marketplace, with only a few percentage points between first and fifth places, Peker said.

“Netwealth has been at number two for a couple of years now,” he said, adding innovation had a large part to play in securing its position in the top five.

He said the netwealth platform, which initially focused on equities, was attracting new advisers due to improvements around online functionality and administration, as well as through offering a broader investment menu.

Netwealth was also recognised for ‘best transaction functionality’ and ‘best model portfolio functionality’ out of those that participated in the report, he said.

Meanwhile, Hub24 advanced to third place in overall functionality after being ranked fifth the year prior.

“They’ve had very rapid growth over the past few years,” Peker said.

“Hub24 started off as more of a SMA (separately managed account)-oriented platform, and over the past few years it has built wrap platform functionalities.

“In 2012 it also received a big boost to its score after introducing superannuation functions.”

Meanwhile, Colonial First State’s FirstWrap platform was ranked number one for the third year running, while Asgard eWrap and MLC Wrap & Navigator were rated fourth and fifth respectively.

Investment Trends found between the 12 platform providers benchmarked in the report, a total of $173 million was spent on developing new functionality and regulatory compliance over the 12-month period.

The average wrap or master trust reported spending $5 million this year on developing new functionality, a decrease from the average spend of $6.4 million in 2013, Peker said.

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