This morning Skandia announced it would be changing the way it reports AUA figures to The Platforum and other data collectors going forward.
Previously it included all platform business, including offshore sales into the UK and legacy business. Following the implementation of the RDR it will now only be reporting its retail advised data in platform reports, more in-line with the way that parent company Old Mutual reports its platform data to the market (with the exception being Skandia reporting sales into the general investment account on the platform via Skandia’s offshore bonds).
This move helps us to paint a true picture of the real platform market, which is now the delivery mechanism for over £3bn of new adviser business each quarter. We think it is important to segregate this from a very different book of business gathered in a pre-RDR environment.
For years, The Platforum have been lobbying platforms to provide as much clear and consistent data to the market as possible. Our Platform Analysis Tool was the first of its kind in the market to help advisers get to grips with carrying out due diligence on providers when it launched back in 2008.
But when it came to platforms presenting asset and sales data to the market, there were multiple shades of grey, dependent on which distribution channels platforms were active in (advised, direct, workplace, institutional etc.) and a host of reporting restrictions, some market-led, some not.
The Platforum’s research paper, the ‘Adviser Platform Guide’ tracks AUA momentum on a quarterly basis and presents the findings in a single chart from largest to smallest platform. Following this chart is an entire page beset with caveats: “This platform also includes D2C assets…This platform has an institutional book of business…Numbers for this platform includes a significant SIPP book of business…”
The list goes on.
Now I’m sure there may be other platforms that have their theories on why Skandia has taken this step. Platforms have their reasons for reporting figures the way they do, but I would truly love to be able to delete that pesky page of caveats mentioned above.
RDR is supposed to be about clarity and transparency and whilst I don’t think this act has any significant impact on how advisers will use the Skandia platform going forward, it does put down a challenge to other providers in the market to make similar moves.
For a sector which champions better consumer outcomes and transparency, it is helpful for platforms to practice what they preach and segregate the various levels of AUA held in the aggregate numbers. This remains particularly challenging when we compare net sales, with just six platforms prepared to share net sales data with us on an individual basis. Thanks to Alliance Trust Savings, Ascentric, Cofunds, Elevate, Nucleus and Skandia.
On a like-for-like basis, platform growth was over 2.5 per cent for the quarter (with a few numbers still to be confirmed). Although Skandia’s move appears to temporarily halt the markets’ upward march, it does ease our mission to help advisers compare like-with-like. And a £26bn platform is nothing to be sneezed at.
As we’ve always said at The Platforum: It’s not about how big the platform is, it’s what you do with it that counts.
Freddie Findlater is head of adviser platforms at The Platforum