Count announces sweeping business changes

At the opening of the Count annual conference this morning, Count Financial chief executive David Lane is announcing wide ranging changes to the group’s platform and back office arrangements for members, as well as offering them an accountant’s licence.

Lane told ifa those changes would include changes to the group’s platform arrangements, with IOOF’s Pursuit platform being added to the group’s approved product list (APL), replacing their old Skandia IPS platform.

Lane said Pursuit comes on at “a better price point than the existing product” and follows other announcements last year of a 20 basis point reduction in the cost of both the existing platforms the group had been using prior to the CBA acquisition, from BT as well as the Custom Solutions Star platform.

Lane said when he first joined the group in December 2011 one of the major issues for members was platform pricing. “When the platform pricing was initially put in several years earlier, it was quite sharp but the world changed, pricing went down and Count's hadn't been reduced,” he said.

The group will also offer members an accountants' licence, Lane said. “I think it's fundamentally misunderstood by a large segment of the market and it strikes me as a huge opportunity for us,” he said.

“Last year when I asked members at the conference if they were interested in getting an accountants licence, this is people who are not [authorised representatives], 200 people raised their hands,” he said.

“If you think about it there are five to 10 thousand accounting firms out there who all over a period of the next three years are going to need to get a licence… there's going to be a large opportunity there.”

The group will offer a new commission system through IRESS’s Xplan Commpay, allowing them to meet fee disclosure requirements as well as helping them segment their client base to analyse where revenue is being generated. That will all be fully automated as of 1 July in line with the introduction of Future of Financial Advice changes.

Members will also gain access to listed securities off-platform, which should particularly benefit self managed super fund-focused members. The offer will commence immediately via a pilot and will be rolled out across the group in August.

The group is working with Mercer to put together some new strategic asset allocations to address ongoing market volatility, using alternatives to dampen volatility while still maintaining the same level of expected returns. This will be rolled out in August.

Lastly, the group has done some work with Xplan to streamline its statements of advice, which have been compressed from 100 pages down to 40 pages.

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