Only 2% of firms feel fully in control of the platform experience, but nearly 90% believe their clients hold them responsible for it
New research from Seccl, the Octopus-owned custodian and platform technology provider, has revealed a large percentage of advice firms are considering operating a platform of their own instead of using or white-labelling a third-party platform.
The findings are released as part of a new paper, ‘Advisers Assemble: why more advisers and DFMs are choosing to operate their own platform’. Headline findings include:
- 44% of advisers are considering platform ownership
- 89% of firms believe clients hold them at least partially responsible for the service they receive from a platform
- Only 2% of firms feel fully in control of their clients’ platform experience
- 62% of firms feel they have little to no control over the direction of their platform’s development
- Over 40% say they often have to change the way they do business to fit around the processes of their platform
The research, conducted by the lang cat, shows that 33% of advice firms have given the idea of platform ownership some consideration and a further 11% have given it a lot of thought.
Chief among the reasons why firms would consider this route are operational efficiency (35%) and owning customer relationships more fully (34%). The research also highlighted advisers’ perceived lack of control over poor customer service that platforms provide to their clients, as well as having little or no control over platform development.
Sam Handfield-Jones, Co-CEO of Seccl, said:
“This research shows that nearly all firms in our industry feel that their clients hold them responsible for a platform service that they don’t feel in control of. This is a big deal and, in our view, underlines exactly why we’re seeing more advisers and investment managers looking to take control of their destiny by operating a platform of their own.
“Historically, the decision to launch a platform has only really been open to the very largest firms or national networks – those with many billions of assets and large in-house platform admin teams. But technology means that smaller firms can now look to get a piece of the platform action. And, as this research shows, a growing number now are.”
Mark Polson, principal at the lang cat, commented:
“Clearly operating a platform won’t be right for many firms, but 40% is a chunky minority of the market that’s looking into it. Big shifts in our sector don’t come all at once, and I suspect twenty odd years ago we’d have seen a similar proportion of firms beginning to consider using a platform for the first time. It certainly feels like we’re seeing a new category forming, which allows firms to take greater control of the platform experience.”
Unlike ‘white labelling’ – where firms can brand and potentially influence the pricing or terms through which a platform is provided – advisers or DFMs who choose to operate their own platform will take full ownership of the platform experience.
Under this model, firms typically rely on a custodian and underlying technology provider such as Seccl to provide the platform infrastructure, but take on the responsibility of day-to-day platform administration themselves.
Sam Handfield-Jones continued:
“It’s a big decision, and one that carries additional responsibilities and risks, too. But for the right firms, it can prove instrumental in improving the overall client experience, and building more efficient, affordable and sustainable businesses in the process.”
To read the report in full, head to seccl.tech/advisers-assemble. And to hear more about the key findings you can tune in to the launch event, featuring Sam Handfield-Jones and Mark Polson, which will kick off at 10.30am on Thursday 22nd. To sign up, click here.
 Research was conducted by the lang cat among 181 advisers between 19 May and 14 June 2021.