The future of platforms – and why collaboration is key

by | Jun 1, 2023

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Aviva’s Roger Marsden talks to IFA Magazine’s Sue Whitbread, about the UK platforms market and why he believes Aviva is well placed to support advisers and their clients’ needs both now and in future.

Sue Whitbread: What does the future of the the UK investment platform market look like in your view?

Roger Marsden: “Firstly, in terms of the scale and size of the market, I think the outlook is very positive with strong growth likely in the market in terms of both underlying assets but also in client numbers as well. I think that’s driven by the fundamentals of the market that we operate in, the demographics of the population, as well as the increasing complexity of needs too of course, which are all having a contributory effect. However, I really think this is driven by the value of the advice process given to the client. That’s the key element.”

“I believe the market will need to see greater efficiency and technical integration right across the industry which will be of benefit to all involved. As providers, we need to support advisers and make sure that we are helping create efficiency and integration in the market allowing advisers to deliver the valuable service they provide for clients more easily and more efficiently. In addition, this will help them manage their risks as well.


“We also need to continue to innovate. To date, innovation in the market, some people would argue, has been done to differing degrees. However, we are seeing trends and emerging themes around innovation, perhaps in connection with intergenerational financial planning as an example. Also, I’d expect to see more developments that help investors use platforms to support and engage with their preferences, goals and objectives. ESG is a good example where we’ve started to deliver on this need with the ESG Profiler Tool. There are certain elements that we know as an industry we need to innovate around. Let’s be honest, there will be so much more that we will need to face as an industry as well, so the market will change in unforeseen ways. Of course, there will be more regulatory change, and tax environment changes too. We need to make sure we’re always on the front foot and that we continue to develop the solutions that meet client needs in changing markets. I’m really optimistic about the future -it’s an exciting time to be involved in this market for sure.”

Sue Whitbread: Is regulatory change likely to continue to impact the platform market? If so, How?

Roger Marsden: “In my view, the focus of the regulator around customer outcomes is unlikely to diminish. This summer, the FCA’s Consumer Duty comes into effect of course, for which most firms have been planning for some time. As a company, Aviva fully endorses and supports the objectives that Consumer Duty is trying to drive. I genuinely think it will alter the way that platform and adviser relationships work in the industry, as we all work together to implement it. Yes, it’ll take time to bed in, but it’s going to take collaboration across providers, advisers and everybody else involved to make sure that we deliver the good outcomes that Consumer Duty is trying to drive.”


“I think it’ll change the way that we operate (for the better!) and we’re going to have to work in a collaborative way to make sure that we implement it in a way that benefits customers the best that it can. Having said all of that, I think the market is really well positioned to support the delivery of Consumer Duty and all the regulatory objectives associated with it. I’d argue that efficient, well-funded businesses like Aviva, which has the size and capacity to thrive in this sector, means we are particularly well placed to help support advice firms in meeting the needs of their clients. That’s something that we’re very much focusing on. As we look at regulatory change in an industry like ours, scale, complexity, and frequency can present challenges, but ultimately, regulatory change generally does move the industry forward, and I think that’s what we’ll face with Consumer Duty.”

Sue Whitbread: What are the main changes in adviser trends that you’re seeing in terms of platform use?

Roger Marsden: “There are changes taking place already, and I believe these will represent a continuing trend. Consolidation and client moves are key trends that we continue to observe in the market, driven by acquisition activity or client segmentation work. If we also look at the Consumer Duty aspect that we’ve just spoken about, all of these things together and pressures around running businesses and margins, mean there’s a real need for efficiency.”


“One of the trends we’re seeing is many adviser firms are reviewing their client proposition and looking to see how they might perhaps limit a little bit more the number of organisations that they partner with from a platform provision perspective, although there are a number of factors that are driving that.” We’re seeing an increased demand from advisers for support in this area.”

“At Aviva, adviser support is an area we continue to be heavily focused on and are proud of the considerable resources we can offer to support. There are all sorts of ways in which we’re getting involved – one is by working with a number of advisers to look at how we can streamline the process for asset transition. Of course, we’re also focused on making sure that we continue to be well placed and maintain our platform offering, so we are well positioned in the day-to-day requirements of adviser firms as well.”

“Overall though, I’d argue that a solid, stable platform like ours with the addition of our strong service provision, the breadth and depth of our distribution support, alongside a brand like Aviva, can combine to provide the right foundations to help advisers to build their strategic futures upon.”


Sue Whitbread: “How do you anticipate these trends changing in the years ahead?”

Roger Marsden: “I don’t anticipate a big change and expect that current trends will probably continue for a period of time. There is clearly a market for large, well-capitalised advice firms looking at ways to offer streamlined advice services. At the same time, the smaller firms remain as important as ever. Strong client relationships built up will continue to remain key across all segments of the advice market, whether that’s the large consolidators or the smaller firms. We see them all continuing to have an important place in the market and are here to support them.

“For advice firms to continue to thrive, regardless of their size or business model, we need to make sure there is simplicity in terms of platform integration in order to help them – data sharing is key too. We see the potential for trends like packaged technology solutions start to grow in their importance. Firms are looking at ways that they can streamline their business so that they can focus on adding more value in terms of creating better client outcomes rather than battling with some of the processes.”


Sue Whitbread: “How committed is Aviva to the adviser market going forwards?”

Roger Marsden: “As a group, we’re incredibly committed to it – and we’re very bullish about the prospects for growth too. Clearly, Aviva is a leading UK brand which is strongly positioned to deliver. We’ve recently gone through our ‘Group Strategy Refresh’ whereby we’ve moved out of a number of territories, and we are focusing very much on the UK.”

“A key area of focus for us is on the wealth management businesses. We see massive opportunity here and are strategically committed to it. Advisers can be confident that Aviva is not only here for the long term in the platform market but can also provide the right long-term support that they need to build and develop their businesses. We are fully committed to listening, working with advice firms to make sure that we can help the industry move forward for the future and to making it work for advisers and their clients alike. Collaboration is key and we’re looking forward to working with more and more advisers as we continue to build great working relationships for the future.”


About Roger Marsden:

Managing Director of Intermediated Wealth at Aviva

Roger started his career with Deloitte in 1994 qualifying as a chartered accountant, and then moved to Barclays Capital. Roger joined Aviva in 2001, holding a number of finance and strategy roles. He moved into the Retirement business in 2010, becoming Retirement Solutions Propositions Directors and then held a number of Managing Director roles – Including MD of Equity Release, and MD of Retirement (Equity Release and Annuities). In 2019 Roger became the MD of the Savings business, including the Adviser Platform post-migration.

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