Platform due diligence

Hi All 

Just a quick question - what tools do you use when doing due diligence on the platforms you use? Can anyone recommend any good websites/providers/tools they use, and why do you like them?

Ta v much!  :)

Comments

  • Hi Caro,

    When it comes to due diligence of platforms, I believe that pretty much everybody will have their own way of going about doing it, and almost certainly there will be differences between in house and outsourced paraplanner methods. Due diligence of platforms has been a baby project of mine for a good few years so I always take a keen interest in hearing what others have to say about it, and how it can be improved/ made easier for us.

    For the firm I work for, which is an small/medium sized IFA, we took a different route and decided to build our own 'tool'. We have compiled a vast library of data from multiple sources over a number of years (meeting platform reps, downloading platforms' own documents, gauging the past experiences of clients and colleagues (the key one!), and plenty of other bits and pieces)  that we have then placed into an Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is updated constantly whenever we hear of changes to processes, a bad experience from a client or colleague, changes to charges or anything of note. The source of this data starts with the platforms we use or have used in the past (almost all of them have their own due diligence 'white paper' or similar nowadays). We've tried to speak to as many of the platforms we haven't used yet to make sure we aren't missing anything.

    The fun bit - my Excel spreadsheet has tabs for choosing a platform based on a client's requirements/objectives, and a separate tab for comparing based on charges. It was a daunting task to set up in the beginning but once the data was on it has become really very simple to update and can be turned into a PDF for archiving whenever changes are made.

    I would always say Excel is the best friend a paraplanner can have!

    In terms of what's in the market, I've used adviser asset in the past as you can build in your own due diligence documents on there, as well as compare charges for new investments. It is a good bit of kit, but it does place reliance on them being accurate and it is amazing how quickly tools become outdated (regardless of what they claim!) I'm not aware of other websites or tools to be perfectly honest, or if I am I've forgotten about them which says all you need to know!

    Basically, I would try and bring as much of the process in house as possible, as from what I can tell it is then much more appreciated as true due diligence by the regulator. The starting point always should be to review what you use at the moment, and I would speak direct to them for this data as they should be able to provide it. Ask them tough questions on purpose!

    I hope this is helpful!

    Jamie

  • Hi Jamie,

    If you don't mind me asking, how many platforms does your firm currently run assets through based on the outcome of your tool?
    Benjamin Fabi FPFS
    Chartered Financial Planner

    http://twitter.com/benjaminfabi 
  • CaroCaro Member
    Hi Jamie - This is super helpful thank you and has given me some food for thought! Really good idea to keep it in house and retain control over it. Thanks for you help! :) 
  • Hi Jamie,

    If you don't mind me asking, how many platforms does your firm currently run assets through based on the outcome of your tool?

    It's not really a straightforward answer to be honest for a couple of reasons:

    1. When I took over due diligence of platforms (in summer 2013 I think) the company was already using 6 different platforms to run money and it was very much down to adviser preference e.g. one adviser would only use a platform, another would only use two others and so on. For a paraplanner that is of course far from ideal but speaking at conferences to other advisers, I know it is something that still happens and is common in small to medium sized firms. The due diligence spreadsheet/document has helped to broaden the minds of some advisers certainly so they are not completely biased.
    2. The tool outputs 'suggested' platforms in order of suitability, but of course we don't always stick to it as it is still only one way we come to a decision. It is very good for recording how we've come to our decisions with all the research then held behind that to back it up. 

    To answer your question more directly, I personally now have experience of using about a dozen platforms but that is not how many we are actively using, which is now about 5. A handful of that dozen have literally been for one client only. The due diligence spreadsheet directly led to the introduction of 1 new platform from scratch. Probably people will read this and think 5 active is too many, but each of those currently has its own purpose. I think we will eventually move to only having 3 though.

    I’ve purposely not named particular platforms (for fear of getting told off!) but I would be intrigued to know which platforms people currently like/dislike!

    I also forgot to mention adviser asset have released platinum ratings, which seem to me to be a very good idea as its compiled from all their users’ own inputs and choices as a result.

    Finally, I remembered Defaqto also have platform ratings but I would take these with more of a pinch of salt as details of how they reach these ratings is less clear, and I have found myself disagreeing with some of their 5 star ratings in the past.


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