Last week, we promised that we would bring you our predictions for 2016 in our Friday email. Each of us has put our neck on the line with predictions for how the investment industry will change and evolve in 2016. Tweet your predictions using hashtag


Happy Christmas everyone and see you in 2016.

Heather Hopkins, Research Director:
In 2016 we will see more platforms developing asset management capabilities (a la Hargreaves Lansdown – but in the adviser space). We will see the continued rise of model portfolios on platforms and we will see innovation driven by regulatory change rather than customer need and we will see the first female CEO of a platform business.

Jeremy Fawcett, Head of Direct:
Love or hate the expression, ‘robo-advice’ will continue be on everyone’s lips and all over secret dossiers lying around in chief execs’ offices. Will the hype precede the next dodgy dossier scandal? No – some level of automation in the advice process is inevitable and a handful of brands will begin to gain traction… and not necessarily the start-ups. The FAMR and the regulatory sandpit* will help to bring some confidence to companies to innovate around this area and guided journey’s into drawdown will begin to pop up.

*Regulatory sandpit – a safe place to build and experiment; regulatory sandbox – meaningless jargon.

Peter Mann, Consultant:
FAMR will mean that they introduce a level of qualification below QCF  level 4 for simplified advice which will be a great shame for all those IFAs who have flown the flag for professionalism.

Danby Bloch, Platforum team member:
There will be a serious cyber attack on a financial provider during the course of 2016. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the number of attempts has increased significantly in the last year. Advisers and their clients usually create the main holes in the cyber defences.

The lower lifetime allowance and the tapering of the annual allowance for people with higher incomes will mean that many thousands of people will either have to stop any further pension investment or limit it drastically. Advisers will focus on non-pension retirement planning for people in their thirties, forties and fifties.

Rodolfo Crespo Rivero, Quantitative Researcher:
With Digital deposits expected to be made available on the biggest UK direct platform during the year, interest rates set to rise, and our latest research coming out in January telling us 27% of investors see banks as their ‘financial partners’ (just at the same level as friends and family!) I expect a couple of big banks and fund managers to follow suit and start the battle for winning the hearts of investors by finally getting the transition from being a saver to becoming an investor right – a no brainer for winning over young investors in my opinion! As the wise @heatherahopkins said at this year’s Platforum Annual Conference ‘millennials value flexibility over security’, well as a millennial I think this is a step in the right direction.

Sophie Huang, Senior Researcher:
Billions of pounds are flooding into “multi-asset” funds where the convenience of a “one-stop-shop” solution offering exposure to a wide range of investments appeals to many investors. I believe this craze with multi-asset funds could potentially lead to disappointments; whether this will happen in 2016 or beyond is the big question mark. The restrictive risk tools behind many of these funds limit the way risk is defined from manager to manager and across strategies and instruments leading to standardized risk analytics that can potentially underestimate investors’ exposure to potential fat-tail events.  This is potentially putting investors’ capital at risk.

Rohit Vaswani, Head of Adviser Distribution Relationships:
In 2016, manufacturers and distributors will look to change how they interact with and service their customers – be that financial advisers or end-investors. Technology will help efficiencies in terms of servicing, but also in delivering customisable, but standardised, solutions. However, we must not forget the need for ‘the human touch’! Investors and advisers still want to deal with people, and fund groups and platforms will need to walk the fine line between technology and human engagement.

Miranda Seath, Senior Researcher:
I making a brave call that George Osbourne will announce a move in next year’s budget to a taxed exempt exempt pensions tax relief structure rather than preserving the status quo or opting for a flat rate of tax relief. The flat rate is favoured by the pensions industry and financial advisers, so TEE would be yet more change for a sector that has had its fair share in the last year and a half. A move to this ISA-like tax relief structure could see corporate ISAs take off in the workplace and poses a threat to pensions as long-term savings vehicles.

Juliette Curtis Hayward, Research Associate:
I predict that customer service at adviser platforms is going to become increasingly important in 2016 particularly at those platforms undergoing technology changes. In our survey of financial advisers investment choice is the most commonly cited top 5 ‘must’ of an adviser’s perfect platform, I predict that as platforms expand their tax wrapper and investment range this will become I hygiene factor and service will overtake as a key differentiator.

Juan Marchena, Senior Account Manager:
There are a lot of market players in the value chain: the man in the street communicates with an adviser, who communicates with a platform, and who communicates with a fund group. Tech providers play different  key roles in that communication. One of the rules of Chinese Whispers is that the more people involved and the more technical the language, the better, because the message being passed around is likely to become very distorted.  Communication and language technicality are big challenges in this industry. This summer, the FCA published a discussion paper around Smart Consumer Communications and Christopher Woolard, director of strategy and competition, said that all too often customer communications are so technical that even the most astute consumer would struggle to understand the information. I couldn’t agree more. In 2016, I predict market players making more and more efforts around communication and attempts to use a plainer English.  

Margo Gantner, Sales & Marketing Co-ordinator:
I predict that the Platforum 2016 conference will be bigger and better than ever next year!