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  • FIRST POST
    • Norwich01
    • By Norwich01 7th Aug 18, 6:34 PM
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    Norwich01
    Platforms
    • #1
    • 7th Aug 18, 6:34 PM
    Platforms 7th Aug 18 at 6:34 PM
    If an IFA uses one main wrap platform provider, does this still make them independent? Or is it the underlying investments that make the firm independent?
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    • dunstonh
    • By dunstonh 7th Aug 18, 7:55 PM
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    dunstonh
    • #2
    • 7th Aug 18, 7:55 PM
    • #2
    • 7th Aug 18, 7:55 PM
    If an IFA uses one main wrap platform provider, does this still make them independent?
    It's a debate. Some think it doesn't. Some think it does.

    My view is that there needs to be context. If its a fund supermarket, then no, they cant be independent by default. You would fail to meet the criteria of independence. If its a full wrap platform where every investment is available, then that is not an issue. A genuine IFA would still be using off-platform options where suitable. So, they could demonstrate they go where it is best for different people.

    The ones that cause concern are often the boutique style firms with one platform and one investment strategy run by a DFM which everyone goes in. i.e. the client fits the recommendation rather than the recommendation fitting the client. A number of these types have been forced to change their classification to FA but it only tends to happen following a regulatory visit or they take their compliance reviews seriously.

    The context is also muddied by the product chain. There are less insurance companies out there now and direct to fund house investments rare. Aegon, Aviva and Standard Life are all trying to get their old books moved on to their platforms. Aegon and Standard Life are only offering platform stuff. Aviva is almost there too. So, its only a matter of time before everything is platform based.

    Further complicated by many of the platforms using the same software provider. FNZ now dominates. So, it is just different graphical front ends and configuration settings (of which there are many to be fair) with a splash of personalised functions that act as a differentiator between them. It is rather strange to see identical letters come out of Aviva and Standard Life with the only difference being font, colouring and logo.

    A few years back I would have said you needed multiple platforms and going off platform when suitable. Today, I would be less concerned about the platform as long as the investments suit the person and are selected from a whole of market and the adviser still goes off platform when suitable.
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from an Independent Financial Adviser local to you.
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