Advisers continue to rank pricing as their number one consideration when picking a platform. However, as the FCA has recently pointed out, comparing platforms on price can be fiendishly difficult.
An individual platform’s charging structure is generally relatively simple. Where complexity creeps in is when attempting to compare charges across platforms. It is entirely possible for all platforms to have simple and transparent charging structures and yet comparisons between platforms to remain inherently complex.
We’ve also seen a rise in platforms offering their clients bespoke terms, further complicating comparisons. More and more clients are now paying below rate card prices. This might be for clients with larger portfolios, for advisory firms who use the platform for large numbers of their clients or for networks with preferential platform relationships. Cuts in pricing are also used as a counter offer when advisers consider leaving, whether that be for a lower rate or as a consequence of poor service. This all makes it that much harder for advisers to demonstrate that their clients are on the most cost-effective platform (not that cost is the only factor in platform selection).
We expect that platforms will continue to tweak rate card pricing in an attempt to attract ‘the right’ clients and use bespoke pricing levers to attract the right advisers. While this is good for price competition, it does make pricing in the market more opaque.
We’re currently awaiting the final results of the Investment Platforms Market Study. Price comparisons and switching were both mentioned as key issues in the interim report. The FCA is currently pressuring asset managers to evidence value for money. Similar pressure could be applied in the platform market – how and where remains to be seen.
We’ve just published our report on platform pricing, where we look at pricing trends and compare platforms. Contact Jean-Luc de Jonge (email@example.com) for details.