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Platforms continue to play a critical role in advisers’ businesses, providing a means to efficiently administer, report on and monitor their clients’ portfolios. However, they can often be taken for granted and undervalued by advisers, sometimes bearing the brunt of criticism partially as the complexity of providing these services is misunderstood. Nevertheless, the latest NMG Australian Adviser Insight Programme found that platform satisfaction continues to improve.
Every year, our senior consultants interview over 200 senior advisers, all of whom have a choice in where to place clients’ portfolios. We capture their views on a range of advice business issues and platform section factors, including over 50 ratings of the platforms they actively use. We use those ratings to generate our Platform Satisfaction Index, now in its third year. And as you can see below, platform satisfaction has steadily increased over time.
Platform satisfaction index (score out of 100)
The most significant contributor to this uplift was improvement in factors relating to ‘business management’ (including commitment to market, backing up messages with action, brand strength and reputation). Unfortunately, these factors are the last important in influencing adviser decision making! More impactful will be substantial improvements in scores relating to the operations function, which genuinely drive selection (including admin accuracy, speed of service and ownership of issues in the call centre). This shows that, in an increasingly commoditised platforms market, providers are doing better at getting the basics right.
Category scores (2016 & 2017)
There have also been improvements in technology (as some incumbents start to catch up to challenger providers, Netwealth and HUB24), although the general improvement in technology somewhat masked lower ratings in range of digital access channels and website quality, as advisers’ expectations continue to rise in this area.
The other area that saw a drop in ratings was relationship management. Turnover of business development managers was the main reason for this decline, as BDMs take time to build up the necessary familiarity with advisers’ practices. Most disappointingly, ratings on price competitiveness (which remains one of the single most important factors for platform selection) also fell over the year.
So, who are the platforms with highest and biggest increase in satisfaction? In no particular order, HUB24, Macquarie and Netwealth came out on top in 2018.
BT’s recent price moves and the current challenges facing the industry have set the stage for some potential changes to those ratings in our next study. We are in the field now and look forward to talking many of you through the results as they come in.
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