It’s getting harder to benchmark adviser platforms on price.

Platforms’ rate card pricing structures are relatively simple in isolation, but it’s nigh on impossible to compare multiple platforms directly – tiers, bands, flat fees, ad valorem fees all kick in at different levels and can depend on activity. The only sensible way to compare platforms is to see how the total costs stack up against some example client scenarios.

But even these comparisons only give half the picture. Discounts on rate card prices are now pretty ubiquitous across the market. Only a handful of platforms refuse to negotiate on price.

Bespoke pricing models might be available via advice firms that put on a decent level of assets or those who are more efficient for the platform to serve – this could mean firms that only engage online or that mainly serve a specific segment of clients. Our recent report – UK Adviser Platforms: Pricing – found that over half of advisers had negotiated discounts on at least one of the platforms they use.

We’ve been tracking adviser platform pricing for a decade, over which we’ve seen a steady fall in platform rate card prices. Platforms have re-written their pricing structures; new firms have entered the market and others have been consolidated. Average rate card prices have stabilised in recent years, but bespoke pricing has continued to proliferate.

Advisers are placing huge pressure on the ad valorem costs paid by their clients – and platforms have borne the brunt of this pressure. But margins are slim in the platform sector. Will platforms fall into the same pattern as many other financial services – using price to attract new business, while profits depend on higher margin legacy business?