Investment platforms expanding into financial planning software space

Spurred by regulatory change and technological advances, investment platforms are driving into traditional financial planning software spaces, including customer relationship management (CRM).

Colonial First State general manager of product & investments, Peter Chun, said feedback - largely from independent advisers - had led the group to add record of advice (RoA) generation onto FirstChoice.

"So not only is the platform helping the adviser switch all their clients from one fund manager to a new fund manager, but this next piece of also generating RoAs closes off that final loop - and enhances their productivity and avoids them having to send these RoAs to clients," he said.

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"We don't claim to be taking on the role of financial planning software; there remains a role for them in the advice process. Where we think it's relevant for platforms to exist in [the advice] process - such as the model portfolio implementation and execution, particularly in RoA [generation] - we've done that," he said.

BT Financial Group's head of platform products Kelly Power said Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) requirements were forcing platform operators to make upgrades, because advisers are looking for platforms to assist in that space. As a result, BT has built fee-disclosure statements into its desktop, as well as making sure the platform can assist with clients who opt out.

Power said advisers who run a single-platform strategy would find overall CRM functionality on platform more useful than those using multiple platforms, but BT was looking to partner with software providers such as COIN and Xplan to improve downloading of data.

"We also have a role to play as the source of truth and source of trusted data, to make sure we have that information available online, to ensure we're communicating with our advisers," she said.

"We provide the end-of-year statements to members as well, so we have that link with the end members which the planning software doesn't; we can support our advisers with fee disclosure in that sense as well."

General manager of distribution at IOOF Renato Mota said IOOF was investing "a tremendous amount" in technology, both in its underlying infrastructure as well as complementary technology such as CRM and portfolio management.

GBST executive manager of wealth management Nick Frolich said both advisers and consumers expect greater mobile device compatibility and interactivity, such as that offered by the big banks for customer accounts.
Investment Trends senior analyst Recep Peker agreed advisers were looking for greater CRM functionality.

"With FOFA, advisers are more likely to expect help administering things like opt-in to come from platforms rather than their planning software," he said.

This might come as a surprise to many, because planning software is traditionally the main CRM tool for advisers, but advisers are now saying they want a way to track it on platform.

"When it comes to client review time, [advisers] want the tools to be available where the process is efficient and streamlined; they want reports to be generated fairly quickly," he said.

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