Amara Haqqani (left) and Kelli Willmer

Financial markets software company and Xplan owner Iress will split out the product and operations functions of its troubled Australian wealth management division.

The restructure coincides with the resignation of Amara Haqqani, who previously ran the combined product and operations functions – including responsibility for the market-dominant Xplan financial planning software tool – and briefly served as acting CEO of the wealth division last year.

Haqqani, a high-profile figure in industry circles as a former staffer at the Financial Services Council and protégé to The Conexus Institute* chair Jeremy Cooper when he was at Challenger, declined to comment.

But Iress executive general manager for wealth, Kelli Willmer, says Haqqani’s decision to leave the company was her own and that the restructure was sparked by customer feedback.

“Since coming on board … I’ve spoken extensively with customers about how we can improve the way we deliver for them,” Willmer tells Professional Planner.

“What that has highlighted is that we need a greater focus on both product and operations. As a result of this, we have made the decision to separate out our product and operations functions … Operations now reports directly to me and is focused on delivering on our transformation objectives.”

The move also followed a torrid period for Iress and its local wealth division. Iress shares have lost a third of their market value over the past five years. The company posted a $137 million loss in full-year 2023 results, with a 14 per cent drop in underlying earnings in the wealth business.

But Willmer says the financial result was in no way related to Haqqani’s departure or the reorganisation of the wealth division.

While Xplan has enjoyed many years as market leader – and near monopoly – in its category, it has also been dogged by complaints from financial advisers. The broader company has also cut a significant chunk of its workforce, experienced problems in its international business and been distracted by the acquisition and sale of the OneVue wealth platform and managed fund administration business.

Iress sources say the company’s group CEO, Marcus Price, has been heard on many occasions to refer to the commercial challenges facing the company as a potential “Kodak moment” – a reference to the photography and film company affected by the advent of smartphones.