Kelly Power

CFS will launch its adviser-facing Edge platform today, opening the offer to the broader market after completing a soft launch over the year.

The wealth giant unveiled Edge last November, with the promise of better integration and customisation, as part of a $430 million investment strategy to revitalise the business.

CFS superannuation CEO Kelly Power says Edge is built on the FNZ One platform which supports 8000 practices globally and offers data insights via portal Glass.

“We can see the behaviour of all those 8000 advisers,” Power tells Professional Planner.

“We know what different models look like, what best practice looks like, whether or not you’re running something profitability for a particular client, so it’s being able to feed those insights up as well.”

Power says the development process has helped it better understand what areas of inefficiency there are in the advice process, as well as being able to benchmark that globally.

“That’s an important aspect of the platform and one of the reasons why… we looked global and local technology – we wanted the best,” Power says.

“We wanted it to be cloud native, modern, configurable and that’s an important reason why we picked up FNZ.”

Power says the focus on designing the platform was addressing pain points and leaning on issues that advisers have raised, for example integration with fintechs and other planning software.

“[Integration is] a known issue right across the industry – no matter how many advisers I speak to it is ‘the’ pain point that they talk about,” Power says.

However, Power says there was no ‘one size fits all’ approach that can be taken with advice businesses because of the variety tech stacks, member portals and compliance tools. “We needed to ensure the platform could cater for all those integration points,” she says.

But she adds that a benefit of picking the FNZ platform as the basis for development was because of how configurable it is.

“Some advice groups want notifications sent to their support staff, some want it to the client, some want it to them… just making sure we can cater to all those different models that are out there,” Power says.

“Permissions as well. Some advice groups want their staff to be able to do certain transactions or not or have those reported in certain ways.”

Testing the edge

CFS commenced the soft launch earlier this year with 90 advisers, which included up to 31 different licensees by the end of testing process, allowing the platform to be properly tested end-to-end.

“You can’t do that in a test environment because you need money moving through the whole system and all those integration points were tested,” Power says.

“That was a really important part of why we’ve been working with this inner circle of advisers. We want this to be something you can use without a lot of training that’s intuitive.”

These advisers were from practices of various sizes, as utilised advisers that had previous experience with CFS as well as ones that didn’t.

“That was an important part of our design process – ensuring that we had those groups of advisers,” Power says.

“Those advisers that were involved through each part of the process [helped us] come up with what we think is market leading.”

The investment in the platform business comes as larger incumbents, including CFS,  have lost market share over the last few years to specialist players like HUB24 and Netwealth.

At the end of the March quarter, CFS held a 14 per cent market share – a 4.5 per cent drop in annual growth of funds under management, according to research from Plan For Life.

CFS wasn’t alone – similarly sized larger market players Insignia (-4.2 per cent), BT (-7.1 per cent) and AMP (-6.8 per cent) all saw drops in market share.

In contrast, HUB24 and Netwealth increased 16.5 per cent and 14.4 per cent, respectively but still only hold roughly a 6 per cent market share each.

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