We were delighted earlier this year when we were asked if we would assist with the launch of a new award for the Schroders UK Platform awards which are now in their 11th year. In recognition of the continuing increase in advisers outsourcing some or all of their investment proposition particularly to models managed by discretionary managers on platform, it was felt that a new award should be given to recognise the leading platform which supports this proposition.

Model portfolios on platforms is always the most frequently searched and analysed discretionary proposition on the Compare tool so at DISCUS we have extremely good insight into the initial selection criteria used by financial advisers. However, the new award was based on feedback from Discretionary Managers and we were delighted that many of our DISCUS partners helped out with the judging process and voiced their opinions.

It was important to us when developing the award criteria that these were not simply based on the platform technology. Whilst it’s extremely important for both discretionary managers and advisers that the technology supports the deployment of the portfolios, it felt to important to us that this shouldn’t be the sole criteria for the award. In our opinion, a platform proposition encompasses a number of features in addition to technology and the same applies to the ability to support model portfolios.

In addition to technology, the award therefore focused on the following key areas:

»  Investment availability

»  Service quality

»  Reporting for the DFM

The availability of a full range of investments is becoming increasingly important for discretionary models as we are increasingly observing the launch of model portfolios which not only comprise funds but also ETFs, Investment trusts and more recently structured products. Many platforms can now support the full range of investment requirements.

Service was also a major factor which we explored and the message came across very clearly that this is where people make a significant difference. The discretionary managers who took part were very keen to tell us about this and in particular where they had good experiences of being listened to by platform staff and as a result, changes had been made to constantly improve the management of their models. Recent posts have talked about this in the context of some of the MiFID II reporting requirements and the functionality which platforms are having to implement to support discretionary managers and financial advisers.

Equally important was the support given by the platform personnel when there were challenges with dealing, trading or rebalancing the portfolios. Whilst often caused by technology difficulties, the ability to have someone available to speak to and who understood and could help to address any problems was extremely important.

The ability to permission adviser firms to use the models was also a good example of where service was important to both advisers and discretionary managers. This was particularly relevant if any manual processes were involved in the process and there was a requirement to access the models quickly in order to take advantage of investment opportunities for customers.

Reporting was an important factor for many of the discretionary managers we spoke with as they were keen to understand how their models were performing, ensure that the models continually aligned to the risk mandate and could track inflows and outflows of investments.

As a result of the process we undertook with the discretionary managers who all offer models on a wide range of platforms, we were delighted that the Novia and Transact were highly commended and that Standard Life scooped the award.

It would also be remiss of us not to congratulate all the winners from last night and special mentions go to 7im (one of our DISCUS partners) who won 4 awards and to Nucleus who won the overall platform of the year award for the second year in a row!