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CBA-Xplan deal highlights dealer control

The Commonwealth Bank has announced it will extend the use of Xplan to all of its licensees, but one IRESS competitor says "mandating software" is turning advisers off.

Yesterday, a CBA announcement heralded the introduction of IRESS’s scaled advice software, Xplan Prime, and the Xplan software to advisers beyond its Count Financial and business and private bank networks.

“This investment in technology will help us secure and enhance the financial wellbeing of our customers by ensuring that all Australians have easy access to quality and affordable financial advice,” said CBA executive general manager, advice, Marianne Perkovic.

However, speaking at the ifa Business Strategy Day in Brisbane yesterday, Julian Plummer, managing director of rival software provider Midwinter Financial Services, said mandating software results in key business decisions being made in “head office” instead of in practices.

“Software [in the financial services industry] is chosen by the few and used by the many,” he said.

Mr Plummer – who was formerly head of quantitative research for CBA’s licensees – said it is an example of the sorts of control issues causing many advisers to seek alternate licensing arrangements.

“Mandating software is what is leading to a lot of complaints; giving advisers choice removes a lot of pressure on licensees,” Mr Plummer said.


He said most licensees choose software for their advisers using a ‘tick a box’ approach that does not necessarily align with the needs of some advice practices.

A statement from the Commonwealth Bank said it will be the first Australian company to use the Xplan Prime product for scaled advice services.

The statement also said IRESS was selected after a tender process was concluded which involved “a number of leading domestic and international financial planning software vendors”.