Funds platform consortium to address industry standardisation

Source: Fidelity International

The emerging UK platform industry's largest players have signalled their commitment to a new initiative aimed at developing industry-wide standards for the benefit of consumers, advisers and fund providers.

The leading mutual fund-centric platforms serving the advisory market - CoFunds, Fidelity FundsNetwork, Skandia, Selestia and Standard Life - have today announced that they have formed the UK's first representative Platform Committee.

Charlie Eppinger, Chief Executive Officer, Cofunds, said: "Platforms have become an extremely significant factor in the mutual funds industry in the last few years – already accounting for over £28bn in fund assets and growing rapidly. The intention of this committee is to acknowledge the increasing importance of the platform industry and to improve market practice with the clear objective of treating the customer fairly with a range of services that deliver simplicity, flexibility, accessibility and fairness."

David Dalton-Brown, Executive Director, FundsNetwork, added: "By collaborating on those issues affecting all stakeholders, particularly consumers and their advisers, our aim is to deliver real benefits to all users of platforms. Many challenges, such as simplifying re-registration of legacy assets and building enhanced levels of e-commerce, require industry-wide responses which this group can help to deliver, acting in partnership with the fund industry."

Trevor Matthews, Chief Executive of Standard Life Assurance Limited commented: "Platforms will change the way consumers interact with advisers and our industry in the next few years. This initiative provides us with a great opportunity to make sure that the needs of customers and advisers are at the heart of our activity."

In an industry where so much is determined by regulations, the current rules in the UK are not written with platforms in mind. The ever-increasing popularity of platforms, however, means they are now central to the way that much of the UK mutual funds industry conducts business.

The intention of the Platform Committee is to represent the new sector, and to review and improve industry operational processes and regulations. Involving input from the UK fund management trade body, the IMA, the Committee’s initial focus will be on:

  • Seeking to ensure that the needs of consumers and their advisers are supported through industry developments
  • Agreeing improved reporting of fund industry sales data via the IMA and other trade bodies
  • Harmonising operational processes between fund providers and platforms
  • Working to improve provider to platform re-registration
  • Creating an industry-wide process to support platform to platform re-registration
  • Boosting levels of e-business within the mutual funds industry
  • Working with the regulator on the implications for UK and EU regulations of the rise of platforms

The inaugural UK Platform Committee representatives are:
  • Charlie Eppinger, Chief Executive Officer, CoFunds
  • David Dalton-Brown, Executive Director, Fidelity FundsNetwork
  • Trevor Matthews, Chief Executive, Standard Life Assurance Limited
  • Brett Williams, CEO Skandia Multifunds & Selestia

    The Committee is in discussion with the IMA about how best to develop an effective partnership for working together.

    Further information will be released on the Committee’s projects on a regular basis.
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