The Platform Revolution

Technology has revolutionised all our lives in a very short space of time. Just look at smart phones. So many of us rely on them to organise and streamline our lives yet it’s hard to remember it’s been just 10 years since Apple launched the iPhone to the market.

For financial advisers and planners in the UK, the revolution really kicked off back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when investment firms used technology to bring easy online access to a multitude of funds, with tools and services designed to reduce the time it took to manage a clients’ investments and bring enhanced opportunities for better returns.

The ‘platform’ was born and the financial advice industry has been benefiting ever since. Of course, technological innovation doesn’t stand still and the rise of ‘robo advice’, facilitated by platform technology, is making its own waves among financial advisers, with some wondering if it’s the beginning of the end.

My own view is that robo is a huge opportunity for the financial planning profession – but that’s another topic.

If we think back a few decades (hopefully I’m not alone in being of an age where this is possible!) the most common model of a financial adviser was one which focused on the products we sold (myself included) which generated our income in the form of commissions.

Many of us, as I did, began our careers working for high street banks or building societies or tied to insurance firms.

I used to believe that specialist investment was the domain of the Stockbroker. The reality is that today, many financial planners are able to provide a more comprehensive client service than many stockbrokers and typically provide a more diversified, lower cost portfolio.

How things have changed! Today, thanks in a large part to technology, the old model of financial advice has been replaced by a far more qualified and multi-dimensional one, where financial advisers are at the centre of their clients’ financial life planning.

Platform technology and the accompanying services has enabled financial planners to offer sophisticated investment strategies to their clients at reasonable cost, alongside a range of lifestyle necessities, such as insurance, tax planning and the ability to feel in control of their financial futures.

The rise and influence of platform technology is a focus for a new paper we’ve just published, called The Rise of the Platform – how investment platforms have revolutionised financial advice. As well as looking at how the technology has evolved and developed, it provides today’s advisers and planners with some useful pointers on how to choose and use platforms that are right for their clients and for their own businesses. Why not take a read and let me know your thoughts?