CFS hosted the unveiling of Edge on Tuesday night at the Sydney Opera House.

Integration and customisation will be at the heart of the new CFS Edge platform which launches early next year with migration expected to be completed 12 months after it hits the market.

CFS hosted a preview at the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday night and will show off the platform to the broader industry in 2023 when in full operation.

The launch of the new platform was announced earlier this year and is part of CFS’s $430 million investment strategy to build out the company over the next four years, after private equity firm KKR completed its acquisition of the business in 11 months ago.

A global process was run by CFS to select a vendor to partner with, which ultimately led to the selection of FNZ.

CFS head of distribution Bryce Quirk tells Profession Planner the new platform will integrate other advice software, which research has noted is a big need for advice practices.

“The important part is that we’re quite agnostic as to who we partner with in that sense,” Quirk says.

“We will allow fintech providers to come and work without our development space. There’s an opportunity to partner with a whole lot of different providers in market that advisers use today that traditionally don’t tap into platforms in a holistic sense.”

When it comes to managed accounts, Quirk says it is at the core of the new platform, noting it’s the first major platform to come to market since managed accounts rose in popularity.

“All the managed account capability we see today has effectively been bolted onto existing platforms, whereas this actually sits at the heart of the infrastructure,” Quirk says.

Additionally, there will be flexibility around how multiple stakeholders of managed accounts can interact with the platform.

“It goes beyond the adviser and the client and involves the responsible entities, the asset consultants, the portfolio managers,” Quirk says.

Up close and personal

Each stakeholder will be able to create their own experience with how they engage with other users of the platform.

“It’s a widget-based approach so you can drop and drag and configure the platform that you see on the screen,” Quirk says.

“That personalisation will also allow the adviser to apply ESG filters across the portfolios, including managed accounts, to determine and score how the portfolio ranks on particular items.”

Advisers will be able to carry out any customisation in conjunction with their client and choose what reporting to share as well as other media used to communicate with clients, whether that is digital only or includes some non-digital applications.

“We’re trying to drive as much digital adoption and straight through processing as possible,” Quirk says.

“We think that drives down the cost of advice and is more secure. We’ll have a digital first, but not a digital-only philosophy.”

The great migration

CFS has already begun planning for the great platform migration with FNZ and the plan is to migrate existing platform users 12 months after the complete launch of Edge.

Quirk says the experience with previous platform migrations has made him cautious. “What will be critical is we take our time around that process; platform migrations are technical, they are challenging and it’s not a process we’re willing to rush,” Quirk says.

In the interim, the new platform will be open for new business and the old platforms will not be switched off until the migration is completed.

Finding the right partner

The New Zealand-based FNZ offers investment platform software used by over 150 institutions globally, holding $2.1 trillion in assets under administration.

“That support they see across the globe gives us confidence that the digital-based cloud native style of platform they’re delivering through us is going to be market leading in Australia,” Quirk says.

He added FNZ deals with over 100,000 advisers across the world.

“Working with that many advisers and advice firms across the globe, the requirement to innovate around that is really important and our ability to tap into that and localise that for the local market is another crucial feature,” Quirk says.

CFS intends to deliver the platform to market quickly, which only commenced building in February.

“We will have completed the first major build of the platform by the end of November and we’re going into testing throughout the Christmas and New Year period with the ambition of launching in Q1 next year and then we’ll continuously improve after that,” Quirk says.

The platform will aim to launch global equities capabilities, both directly and through managed accounts in the middle of 2023.

“That global capability that we’re deploying and localising through FNZ means what is developed overseas and for other markets can [be brought]on shore for Australian advisers,” Quirk says.

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