Q2 2023 really was dismal for adviser platforms. Assets were up, but mainly thanks to SS&C Hubwise migrating Brooks Macdonald assets. Gross flows don’t look too disastrous, but were still down around 10% on the quarter and year.

Net flows, on the other hand, were less than half of Q1’s and less than a third of Q2 2022’s, which implies significant outflows. Customers are paying down mortgages at the end of cheap fixed terms and otherwise needing cash. Savings accounts are a credible alternative to investing again and annuities are looking more attractive for retirement. There’s little change visible on the horizon amid continued poor investment performance.

To distract from the malaise, there have been a flurry of platform announcements in recent months. SS&C and Intelliflo announced Wealthlink. Abrdn, Embark, Novia and Wealthtime are rebranding. 7IM is (again) reported to be up for sale. In addition, years of platform M&A are finally leading to several asset migrations: Abrdn Elevate and FundZone to Wrap/AdviserOS, Advance by Embark to the Embark Platform/Scottish Widows.

Plenty of work is going on behind the scenes to improve the new propositions and smooth the transition. We’d note, slightly mischievously, that all the current migrations involve moving assets from a platform that is higher on our Platforum User Leaderboard (based on reviews by financial advisers) to one that is lower. These groups have their work cut out.

Scalability is a key consideration for these groups, but usability is a big concern for both advisers and, increasingly, their clients, who are finally demanding that legacy systems keep up with modern tech firms such as Google and Amazon.

Platforum has recently published UK Adviser Platforms: Platform Selection, looking at how advisers choose and use platforms as well as market and review data for Q2 2023. For more information, please get in touch.