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Advised platforms provide varying levels of STP functionality

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Advised platforms have some way to go to provide full straight through processing (STP) functionality according to the lang cat’s latest quarterly platform market scorecard.

The firm reviewed fifteen adviser platforms looking at processes including setting up investment products and withdrawing money. It found in many cases, platforms continue to operate on a combination of signature-based paper and telephone processes, rather than providing a fully digital service.
 
The analysis included setting up and topping up pensions, general investment accounts, ISAs and bonds, withdrawing money from those products and switching and moving money. It found that at least one platform operates STP for each of the transactions assessed, however, no single platform was fully digital for all transactions. Most platforms (80 per cent) operated STP for ISA top ups during onboarding, but less than a third (27 per cent) offered it for bond top ups. And when moving money, only 40 per cent operated STP for re-registration on or off platform. The analysis also found that 20 per cent of adviser platforms do not offer STP for money laundering checks.
 
Terry Huddart, market analysis manager at the lang cat, says: “STP is an increasingly contentious issue. On one hand, advisers, especially new-school ones, expect things to be done online. On the other, platforms, despite generally positioning themselves as technology outfits, are to varying degrees still mired in old-school financial services processes. A big part of what’s holding things back is security and we understand that although platforms may be at the vanguard of technology-based financial services, they also need to safeguard client money and that is not child’s play. However, the reality is at least one advised platform is STP for every process we looked at and in the direct platform market, customers can open, fund and invest in an ISA in minutes. It’s incredible that full STP functionality is not readily available in adviser world. We know that there is work going on in this area, but some platforms need to push it higher up the agenda or advisers could start voting with their feet.”
 
Rohan Sivajoti, director of Postcard Planning and founding member of NextGen Planners, adds: “The old-world inefficiency of platforms demanding printed application forms and wet signatures adds significantly to the time and money advisers spend performing what should be simple actions, not to mention the time the client has to wait to get their money into the market. Yet the technology, legality and processes already exist to make these actions fully digital. With straight through processing, everyone wins: the platform, advisers and most importantly – clients. Surprisingly, it’s not always the old guard life companies that are the worst offenders; some of the ‘new age’ platforms are the furthest behind. If we want to be seen as a forward-thinking profession, advisers need all platforms to catch up.”

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