ATS admits replatforming delay in ‘difficult’ upgrade

Alliance Trust Savings has admitted that the launch of its revamped platform has taken longer than it initially expected, but has committed to releasing the full offering to advisers in the next six weeks.

Speaking to Money Marketing, Alliance Trust Savings chief executive Patrick Mill explains the business had hoped to launch its new platform to advisers in the third quarter of 2016.

It is in the process of moving to technology provider GBST from its own technology.

Mill says: “We did a pilot at the beginning of quarter two last year with a small number of advisers to see what they thought and if there were any enhancements. Through that pilot there was a lot of feedback where we needed to do further enhancements and there was further work to do. That delayed the launch.”

He says most of the suggestions from the pilot related to making the platform easier to use.

Mill says: “Model portfolios are new to us and [the advisers] felt some of that journey was quite clunky and not very intuitive. Some of the adviser charging did not offer enough flexibility. It was more around ease of use and the ability to do what they wanted to do on the system easily.”

He adds: “The launch delay was [because], first of all, replatforming is difficult, and, secondly, it was based on the feedback of the pilot that there were a number of things we needed to enhance before we launched.”

The new platform launched to around 500 existing advisers in April. Mill says a final date has not been set for the full launch but he expects it will be in the next six weeks.

Alliance Trust Savings also stopped accepting new business onto the platform between December 2016 and April 2017 but Mill says it is back up and running now.

He says: “That was part of the process of us needing to make these changes and we needed to be able to focus on making those changes so we took the decision not to accept new business for a short period of time. In April we launched it and we accept new business on it now.”

The migration of assets from the old system to GBST will then follow over the next few months.

The launch delay was [because], first of all, replatforming is difficult

Mill does not expect advisers to be disrupted by the migration of client assets.

He says: “We are talking to advisers about when they would like to be migrated across and we will be doing all of their customers at the same time. We will do it in a couple of tranches.”

Mill says the replatforming project will be the main focus for the rest of the year and does not intend any further changes to pricing beyond changes introduced from February.

However, he says the business is looking at how to make it easier for a customer’s products to be consolidated on the platform.