Standard life’s two advisory platforms, Elevate and Wrap, could potentially consider consolidation in the near future, following feedback the investment giant, Standard Life, has received from its advisors.
AXA Elevate was bought by Standard Life in May last year by acquiring AXA Portfolio Services, the company which houses AXA Elevate. Both this newly acquired firm and the original ‘Wrap’ firm operate as separate companies, however, this could be contested following a demand in change from Standard Life’s adviser clients.
Standard life’s UK and Europe Chief executive, Paul Matthews, stated that he liked to think the company as one providing software to meet the demands of advisers running their business, as well as evolving the services Standard Life provides to advisers to meet their demands.
Mr Matthews expressed this through mentioning the developing demand for various services provided through the Wrap platform, stating, “The main focus for us is to provide the IFAs with what they want – that’s our driver. So if advisers are looking for more functionality or different enablement we’ll have to see how we can best provide that.”
Furthermore, The Europe Chief executive expressed the Wrap platform to have, “changed dramatically”, since it’s launch in 2006 and that changes are being led by the demand of advisers, “in the way advisers want it to go”.
“As advisers give us more feedback about how they want things done both for Elevate and Wrap we would adapt the platform to that. We see ourselves as the supplier of the software to the adviser market.”
“In many ways, the development of which way it will go is, the advisers are probably as good as anyone to ask because as they evolve their businesses we’ll evolve the platforms for them.”
The two platforms use FNZ, a software management firm originating from New Zealand, as a provider of their back house services, stock trading and administration. Standard Life was FNZ’s first contract for UK wealth management.
“Both the businesses have been using that same supplier so that’s clearly coming together. There are some synergies we can work through in the backend bits to improve the productivity of it,” Mr Matthews said”.
Standard Life’s retail relating business currently works with and excess of 3,000 adviser businesses with total AUA of £44.2bn, paired with net inflows of £4.8bn over 2016.
The acquisition of AXA’s Elevate platform added £11.1bn in AUA, which when paired with Standard Life’s wrap platform brings the total assets of both platforms to £40bn.
Interestingly, Mr Matthews added the advisors were split between which platform to use, with some preferring the simplicity of the Elevate platform and other’s preferring the detail and intricacy of the Wrap platform. Other’s use both for differing lists client profiles.
“The option is there for them already. Around 300 advisers today out of the 3,000 use both platforms. What they do is put certain customer groups on one platform and certain groups on the other. I think that’s a really good functionality for them to have.”
Standard Life will persist to look for companies which would suit a fit to the firm, stating, “any business that complements what we’re trying to do”, would be best for them.
“Fundamentally we’re about providing administration for advisers [and] for employers. We provide a small amount of advice, so firms that provide some advice. And then we also provide investment management, so firms that provide investment management.
“I think historically what we have done is that we will always look at any asset management businesses out there, we’ll look at any administration businesses out there, and any advice businesses. We’ll always search the market if there’s some business out there that might add value to us.”
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