Platforms are far more than an administrative vehicle these days, Andrew Alcock, CEO of HUB24 pointed out during an interview as part of Professional Planner’s Shape of Advice podcast series.

“Originally, platforms were just about helping you pick a basket of managed funds, get a consolidated tax report, get access to wholesale managed fund promises and to make it easy to switch between investments,” Alcock described.

“They’re improving reporting, they’re creating transparency, they’re creating advocacy and they’re creating efficiency for customers and advisors in a way that they haven’t done in the past,” he said.

And now advisers’ customers are on the journey too – using the technology to understand their investments, Alcock said.

“We lived in a world where investing was a black box and you saw your advisor and you did what they told you to do. You had to trust them and go along with the journey. Now consumers are awakening up to what’s available to them, and a smart advisers will take their client on that journey,” he said.

Better client experience

Virginnia Hottes heralds from Westpac, leaving three years ago to be an executive adviser for Viridian Advisory, based in NSW. She brought with her a firm belief that technology could provide a better client experience and ultimately, better support for its teams.

“I’ve worked with five platforms over the years, and pretty much we had to work with what we were given, which could be clunky,” she revealed during a conversation alongside Alcock (both pictured).

But there’s a shift in the use case for platforms, which are incorporating far more interactive technology in recent years.

Clients, regardless of age, are also more technology-focused, which means they are looking for far greater transparency, Hottes said. This allows advisers to have the information at their fingertips to make the best decisions, she described.

Viridian long ago ditched spreadsheets for working with live data to transition investments and shares into managed accounts, enabling her to exclude certain stocks where there’s high tax liabilities, for example, she said.

“When we set up a new client on a platform, we’ll actually ring them to make sure they can actually use the technology and to get them to see more of what’s going on,” she said.

Technology utilised by advisers has largely been custodial platforms holding money or assets, Alcock pointed out.

Progress continues

This traditional use for technology is likely to cross over into software-as-a-service in a bid to provide a single view of wealth for customers in the future, Alcock said. He revealed that he’s working on some prototypes that combined a digital advice solution and an adviser, which would enable advisers to offer different service levels, depending on the client’s needs.

Costs for both advisers and customers are only likely to reduce in time while outcomes for customers will improve, he said.

“We started running a paperless business, while others were working in heritage technology that was 10 or 20 years old. Large institutions have also famously offered white label products to large dealer groups where they give them a wholesale price, adding a margin along the way.”

“We might integrate other products that we don’t own on the platform, but report as if we do. And I think data is a huge opportunity for us to look at,” Alcock said.

While these platforms are great, they are merely tools to help get the job done better. Advisers aren’t here to sell products, they’re here to help people retire comfortably, he said.

“We need to be best of breed to earn our right, to work with our customers.”

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