Adviser platform flows rebounded strongly in the first quarter of 2021, following the turbulent year that was 2020. Flows suffered through the two middle quarters of last year, picking up in Q4 2020 and continuing that trajectory into Q1 2021.

A powerful driver was much higher than expected ISA flows in Q1 2021. Typically, we see an ISA bounce in the Q2 numbers when many advised clients tend to maximise their ISA allowances at the start of the new tax year. What we may be seeing is a delayed reaction to the uncertainty of 2020 and clients now investing a lot of the cash they have saved up during lockdown when there wasn’t much to spend it on.

On the back of these flows, total adviser platform assets rose by 3.5% in the quarter to £615bn at the end of March. About £500bn of this is purely advised assets, with the rest being non-advised, institutional and workplace business.

Platforms remain a key – if not the key – distribution channel for advised assets. Interest in the sector remains strong, with several platforms currently in the process of changing hands (Novia, Nucleus and Parmenion) and some fresh interest rumoured in the market. It emerged this week that Lloyds Banking Group is exploring a takeover of the Embark Group, which currently runs two platforms – Advance by Embark (formerly Zurich’s intermediary platform) and the Embark Platform (which now includes the advised assets from Alliance Trust Savings).

Adviser platforms should continue on a strong trajectory as the economy begins to open up and investors are more confident with investing excess savings from lockdown. We expect to see this upward trend in flows continue when we publish platform results for Q2 in August.

We have just published our UK Adviser Platforms: Spring Update, including adviser platform data for Q1 2021. Find out more about our UK Adviser Platform research here.