Industry views mixed on platform choice reality

On the road to more choice

14-Aug-2014

By Julie May

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Independent platforms are open to working with institutionally-aligned dealer groups despite such alliances appearing to be rather scarce across the board.

Despite the apparent dearth of such alliances, Investment Trends research released this week found planners had greater freedom of platform choice in 2014 in comparison to previous years, with fewer advisers saying they used a particular platform due to dealer group preference.

Netwealth executive director Matt Heine said despite a number of advisers saying they had access to a greater number of platforms, in reality it was only a small percentage of advisers that actually did.

“There is still a large part of the market that is restricted to various platforms due to the approved product lists (APL) set out by their dealer groups,” Heine told financialobserver.

“We’ve actually been speaking to a lot of advisers that want to use our platform and move dealer groups so that they can have access to less restrictive APLs.”

He said a small handful of institutionally-aligned advisers were using the netwealth platform, but that had only come about through pressure put on dealer groups from those specific advisers.

“We would welcome the opportunity to work with institutionally-aligned dealer groups in order to complement their offering,” he said.

“I don’t, however, believe it’s a priority for them [the institutionally-aligned dealer groups] as they’ve got numerous things to look at and adding additional platforms, particularly ones they may consider competition, doesn’t make sense.”

Hub24 head of marketing and distribution Wes Gillett said two institutionally-aligned groups had access to the Hub24 platform, but it was not something the institutions broadly promoted.

“If reports do show that advisers have greater choice in 2014, I’d be asking the question whether the increase is due to an actual policy change of licensee or on the back of acquisitions where groups already have access to additional platforms,” Gillett said.

He revealed one group that was using the Hub24 platform on a white-label basis was Total Financial Solutions Australia, which was affiliated with CBA through its owner, Countplus.

Countplus was established in 2006 as a subsidiary business of Count Financial, which became CBA owned in 2011.

“I hadn’t noticed a distinct upswing in advisers having greater choice of platforms,” Gillett said.

“In our experience, usage has largely come about through advisers requesting it.”

He said independent platforms offered a number of advantages over legacy platforms as they were nimble and in many cases further ahead when it came to the functionality around managed accounts and managed portfolios.

BT Financial group head of advice operations Warren Dunne said: “Our advisers have always had the ability to select an alternative platform if it is in the best interest of their client.

“The best interests of clients will always override what is on our APL.”

Investment Trends senior analyst Recep Peker said of the research Investment Trends put out earlier this week that greater choice of platforms, where it existed, was perhaps a consequence of the Future of Financial Advice reforms and the introduction of best interest duty.

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