Fast-paced platform functionality development continued over the last 12 months: Report

From

Sarah Brennan

Fast-paced platform functionality development continued over the last 12 months, as abundantly evidenced in the just released Investment Trends annual Platform Benchmarking Report. Key focus areas included supporting advisers with regulatory change, digitisation, advice delivery, and practice efficiency.

Key notes:

  • In a close tussle, Netwealth has clinched the No.1 overall score, trading places with HUB24 – last year’s winner
  • Most platform scores increased over the last 12 months, reflecting a collective rise in standards across functionality, integration, and product innovation
  • Platforms have this year explicitly focused on responding to advisers’ desire to better service wholesale clients

Leading research firm Investment Trends has launched its 2021 Platform Benchmarking and Competitive Analysis Report, now in its 18th year.

For overall platform functionality ranking, Netwealth just edged out HUB24 to re-claim the top spot in overall platform functionality. Industry wide, the five top-ranking full-function platforms are:

  1. Netwealth (overall score of 91.5%)
  2. HUB24 (91.1%)
  3. Praemium (89.3%)
  4. BT Panorama (85.1%)
  5. Mason Stevens (82.6%)

All platforms reviewed in both the 2020 and 2021 reports showed an increase in their scores with Mason Stevens posting the largest relative increase in score of +8.9% over 2020. Macquarie Wrap, CFS First Choice, Praemium and North also posted solid improvements over their 2020 capabilities.

“As a collective, platforms are raising their game. An enormous capability uplift was observed across the board in the specific areas of reporting, data security and integration – all in a concerted effort to support the continued digitisation of adviser practices and their compounding compliance burden,” said Sarah Brennan, CEO at Investment Trends.

The past two years have been particularly charged with new regulatory requirements – fee consent, LIF, IDII and DDO. To better support advisers, platforms have focussed on embedded templates, reporting, comparison tools and educational resources.

“Platforms have emphatically heeded calls for support from advisers,” observed Brennan. “To address the new fee consent obligations, all platforms have offered digitised templates, enhanced tracking and notifications. With respect to DDO, we note with interest HUB24’s integrated online chat tool through which advisers can raise complaints and report significant dealings.”

With the covid-induced trend towards digital client engagement showing no sign of abating, platforms are finding innovative ways to stand out and be seen with notable focus on digital consent and workflow. All platforms are now integrated with digital signatures with Macquarie WRAP and Mason Stevens now offering the ability to track progress of their requests including date and time stamps.

“We are seeing advisers continue to bring more technology into their practices to generate efficiency gains which in turn is generating greater demand for integration and streamlining of the tech stack,” said Brennan. “Some platforms have responded by building planning tools while others have partnered with or acquired third party solutions.”

End-client mobile access was also materially improved with Wealth02 launching its mobile app and BT Panorama, CFS First Choice, Mason Stephens, Netwealth all refreshing their respective mobile front-end.

Separately and in acknowledgement of the move by advisers to focus on better servicing their HNW client base, platforms have enhanced their ability to identify sophisticated investors, strengthened their product offering and upgraded their reporting tools.

The growing importance of ESG was also illustrated in developments by BT Panorama, Macquarie WRAP and Praemium to allow advisers to compare ESG options. CFS First Choice and North have added ESG options as discrete investment strategies.

“These results showcase the agility with which all platforms have been able to respond to the dynamic business and regulatory environment. It is an exciting and fast moving space that we’ll continue watching with keen interest,” said Brennan.

About the report

The Investment Trends 2021 Platform Benchmarking & Competitive Analysis Report is based on detailed review and audit of the features and functionality offered to planners by 13 leading investment platforms in Australia, assessed across more than 500 different criteria.

Functional items are given weightings to reflect their relative importance to advisers, based on Investment Trends’ ongoing annual detailed quantitative surveys that track advisers’ platform and product preferences.

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