Leader: Platform sector needs better data integration

January 13th, 2023 | In the press, Viewpoint


Data integration is all the rage in many sectors, so when will platforms make it a priority? Advisers are getting frustrated

I recently attended two industry events to discuss the state of the platform sector. Both explored the challenges facing the market and what the future might hold. The meetings, subject to the Chatham House Rule, allowed participants to be frank in their appraisal of the platform sector. And the verdict was damning. Many expressed their frustration with the status quo and called for change. One participant bemoaned the lack of innovation in the past decade, saying “the pace of change is not where it is meant to be”.

Other issues raised included poor service, waste and inefficiency. Also mentioned were the Consumer Duty, due diligence and tech integration. For this piece, I’ll focus on the last point. Platforms have evolved over the past 20 years from humble beginnings as fund supermarkets to the current tech-driven adviser service. There are many platforms, which provide different propositions to meet the increasing demands of advised clients’ needs. Obviously, the current advice business model does not rely on a single platform. This is because there is no one-size-fits-all proposition to cater to the multifaceted needs of clients.

Hence advisers have been clamouring for better tech integration to ease their workload. They want to see platform data seamlessly integrated with planning software systems.

Industry reaction

Will the industry react swiftly to address this adviser need? The issue was well articulated by adviser tech guru and Money Marketing columnist Ian McKenna in his essay entitled, ‘All this tech, but why aren’t we integrated?’

“As we rewrite the integration landscape, I believe it is essential to revisit the range of data shared between partners as well as the methods of communication. We need two-way pipes so that the full range of information needed between the parties can flow in either direction.”

Ian McKenna, columnist, Money Marketing

I strongly recommend this piece if you haven’t read it. The points McKenna raised are being considered. Two tech firms, Origo and Sprint Enterprise, have created data hubs to facilitate better data integration. Sprint’s integration hub, FINIO, has already received support from some of the leading platform providers.

“The penny has completely dropped for platforms to bring about a more integrated environment,”

Robin Bevan, CEO, Sprint Enterprise Technology

Pressing need

The tech boss says many in the platform sector have come to terms with the fact the application programming interface route hasn’t worked.

“The need for integration between investment platforms and adviser software solutions becomes more pressing by the day…”

“Adviser firms need data from investment platforms, such as valuations and/or transactions, in the many software solutions — customer relationship management systems, financial planning tools, etcetera — they use to run their businesses. But the problem is that building and maintaining these connections is extremely resource intensive.

“FINIO hugely simplifies this process because platforms only need to manage one integration to the hub, leaving FINIO to do the ‘heavy lifting’ of delivering data to adviser solution providers.”

Robin Bevan, CEO, Sprint Enterprise Technology

This sounds like a good solution to a problem that has dogged the sector for many years. Surely it should be welcomed by platform providers. The free flow of data between the parties could be transformative for the sector.

Data integration is all the rage now. Other sectors have embraced it to improve the client experience. The pensions sector, for instance, has introduced dashboards that will soon be available to the public.

This point was reinforced at the events I attended: platforms that invest in smart tech and data integration will better serve the needs of advisers and their clients.

Source: Money Marketing

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