M&G has acquired the Ascentric platform this week. Its c. £14bn assets are either on the standard platform or a full white label option (such as Succession’s bespoke platform). At our last count, just shy of 1,800 adviser firms use Ascentric.
So where will this platform fit into the M&G puzzle? The 2019 demerger of Prudential’s UK business now leaves M&G plc, a behemoth asset manager with north of £350bn assets under management. M&G already has MyPru (its online administration ‘platform’), the Prudential Financial Planning arm (c. 380 restricted advisers) and a considerable UK distribution footprint for its own products via over 2,500 adviser firms. The big product draw is its smoothed fund option, PruFund.
M&G already seems to have it all then. So where does the Ascentric platform add value? Ascentric has recently been through a technology migration onto Bravura Sonata – there have been many teething issues but what exists now is an up to date piece of platform technology with model portfolio functionality, a wide range of third-party DFMs and its own dealing desk to boot. But also, and perhaps most importantly, the platform gives one of the UK’s largest asset managers some crucial insight into the behaviour of financial advisers.
For some time, pure play single strategy asset managers have been losing their influence on fund distribution. With more intermediation between advisers and asset managers in the way of research agencies, networks, DFMs and platforms, asset managers have lost their edge in influencing the 89% of firms with fewer than five advisers.
Time will tell as to how M&G plans to weave Ascentric into its existing distribution framework. But at the very least, having first-hand access to the invaluable platform MI should be leveraged to provide an advantage in what is an increasingly tougher playing field.
We will be looking at the investment strategies used by advisers and the overall sphere of influence in our upcoming report UK Financial Advisers: Investment Propositions. Get in touch to find out more.