More advisers have pick of the platform bunch

Financial advisers have increasing freedom to choose the investment platforms they want to use, research by Investment Trends has found.

According to the researcher's May 2015 Planner Technology Report – based on a survey of 892 financial advisers – three quarters of advisers say they have either some degree of or full freedom when choosing platform providers.

This figure is up from the 70 per cent who said they had this freedom in 2014 and the 64 per cent in 2013.

"Financial planners have been seeking increased flexibility with product choice since the Future of Financial Advice Reforms and many are now achieving freedom of platform choice," Investment Trends' head of research for wealth management Recep Peker said.

"This is both a threat and an opportunity for platform providers, as those who best address planners' needs will win their business."

Investment Trends also found financial advisers are using their increased freedom in platform choice to adopt a 'one plus one' approach to platform usage.

"Planners are favouring an efficient two-platform solution that can provide them with everything they need to service their clients," Mr Peker said.

The report also found that Netwealth leads the platform industry in terms of overall adviser satisfaction, followed closely by Hub24, with CFS FirstChoice and Macquarie Wrap tied for third spot.

Joint managing director of Netwealth, Matt Heine, said he believes the success of Netwealth in this survey is largely based on the fact the company does not just focus on the technology but also on the administrative and customer service provided to its clients.

Mr Heine said the company's "strong focus" on platform functionality and usability was another factor contributing to Netwealth's having the highest user satisfaction.

With advisers now having a greater choice of platforms, MLC noted that since adding three new separately-managed account products to its MLC Wrap and Navigator platforms the firm has experienced significant adviser up-take.

"Since we launched our SMA offering in 2009, we've seen an exponential increase in investor demand and market growth for SMAs and have carefully chosen additional portfolios to meet this evolving need," said Kathy Vincent, MLC's general manager of retail wealth platforms.

"The early signs from our three new products support the view that advisers are increasingly turning to the SMA market. In a low-yield environment it is important for advisers – and investors – to have a variety of income-focused investment options.

"We're committed to providing financial advisers with innovative investment solutions that can form part of their clients' overall investment, super or pension portfolios," she said.

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