Have a little read over Cathi’s helpful tips on making sure you’ve got your platform due dilligence up to scratch!
• Way back when it was the FSA, the regulator published guidance that detailed the nine key areas they would expect a firm to consider in platform due diligence. It is worth re-familiarising yourself with these.
Most of them you are probably covering anyway, but one noticeable one that frequently gets left out is showing you have looked into the platform terms and conditions, in particular, what happens if you want to move clients away. Make sure these are fully understood and kept on file.
• Ensure you’re aware of which technology your preferred platform is using, if it has changed recently or if it is about to change. Re-platforming is incredibly complex and can have a big impact on your clients.
Those that have managed to do so successfully in recent years are unlikely to do so again in the near future, providing extra stability.
• Use whatever resources you have access to, this might be software (such as Defaqto, Synaptics or Adviser Asset) or platform guides (such as those from Platforum or the lang cat).
Don’t feel you have to do all the leg work from scratch; use the available data, and then apply your own criteria and thinking to it. Whatever you use, retain a copy on file, along with the date issued.
• As with a centralised investment proposition, the FCA is very focused on ensuring you know which clients your preferred platform is NOT suitable for.
This means either having an alternative platform solution, or being happy to go off platform (e.g. for SIPPs, offshore bonds, section 32s etc.)
This is also what the regulator referred to when it said “it is likely to be very rare, if possible at all, that a firm could use one platform for all clients and meet the independence rule.”
That doesn’t mean that you have to use five separate platforms, but if you do have a main platform, know which clients it wouldn’t work for and have a back up in place (either on or off platform).
• An annual review of your platform due diligence should be sufficient, but physically put it in to whichever task or project management system you use, to show you have a review process in place.
As with most things in our industry, it actually doesn’t need to be that complicated.
This excerpt was taken from Cathi’s recent Professional Adviser article; http://www.professionaladviser.com/professional-adviser/feature/2448341/platform-pointers-five-handy-due-diligence-tips