The transformative value of technology

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For adviser use only

 

Do you have a smartphone? If so, how many apps do you have on it? And more to the point, how many of those apps do you regularly use?

In a study published in Fortune magazine a couple of years ago, it was discovered that smartphone users in the US typically only use three apps frequently. What’s more, users will devote half their app time to just one of those apps. This tells me that when we like something and find a real use for it, we’ll stick with it steadfastly, regardless of what other shiny bells and whistles are dangled in our way.

It’s a similar story with online investment platforms. There are plenty of things technology could do but when we asked advisers why they use a platform for our latest Adviser Attitudes Report, the biggest reasons were probably the same as they would have been 10 years ago – access to better investment choice (cited by 63% of respondents) and the ability to manage a range of products and investments in one easy-to-use portal (58%). By contrast, access to better tools and functionality was cited by just a third of advisers (34%) as a motivator for using a platform.

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This may sound like platforms haven’t moved on that much from their first incarnation – but that’s to underestimate the transformative value of having a whole world of investment choice in one place. Two-thirds of advisers (66%) say that platforms have resulted in greater convenience and time efficiency. Eighty-six percent say platforms make the provision of advice more cost-effective – and 39% of advisers confirm that platforms have even resulted in lower charges for clients.

That’s a great outcome. So it’s no wonder that a third of adviser firms – and half of larger firms – expect to direct more of their business to platforms over the next 12 months.

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Getting the basics right

In a crowded and competitive market, it is very tempting for platforms to try to stand out by constantly redefining what a platform is and what it can do. But we know from talking to advisers –and from survey results such as the ones above – that what really matters is getting the basics right.

That doesn’t mean standing still – but it does mean constantly working out how the essential aspects of a platform can operate as well as they possibly can.

Features such as pre-populating client data wherever possible, signature-less transacting and keeping the whole client registration process online are the sort of simple details that streamline day-to-day business activities and keep pushing down operational costs without sacrificing quality of service.

Staying focused

Over the past 17 years, platforms have helped to revolutionise how people invest. By delivering greater efficiency and helping to cut costs, we fervently believe platforms can also help more people invest – while also accessing the expert advice and guidance they need along the way.

So we’ll continue to explore how platform technology can be usefully expanded to help you do more and offer additional benefits to your clients. But our first commitment is to deliver what you and your clients need and want now – namely, wide investment choice and seamless all-in-one-place account management – as efficiently as we can.

We’re very excited about what platform technology could be used for in the future. Because like a really popular smartphone app, we also know the most useful investment platforms are the ones that stay focused on what they do best.

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