David Tiller, head of adviser and wealth manager propositions at Standard Life writes about the positive power of user feedback shaping the decision to maintain and invest in Elevate and Wrap, as distinct platform propostions.
The Elevate platform is now a part of Standard Life and the acquisition is a demonstration of Standard Life's commitment to the UK financial services market.
The provision of platform services to advisers is core to our strategy and in October, advisers using Elevate were invited to take part in a survey.
Here's what they shared with us and how this feedback is helping to shape Standard Life's platform strategy.
Firstly, we received a fantastic level of interest in the survey with over 500 responses. This will ensure that our plans are driven by what matters most to users.
Feedback on platform fundamentals
There was almost unanimous agreement around platform fundamentals:
- 97% rated ease of use as extremely, or very, important
- 97% rated competitive pricing as extremely, or very, important
- 95% see commitment to platform development as very important
- 90% rate financial strength of provider as extremely, or very, important
- The technical, distribution and operational support provided by Elevate is highly regarded by advisers who value the quality of service delivered by the Elevate team
Areas for development
Digging deeper, the high-consensus areas of development were:
- Improved usability and automation
- Auto shareclass conversion
- Improved rebalancing capability
- Improved client reporting
- Improved tax reporting and tooling
- Reduction in paper outputs
Crucially, the survey has also shown that Elevate advisers have different priorities and requirements to Standard Life Wrap advisers. Elevate partners informed us of the areas where we need to invest in new capabilities. We need to have:
- a real focus on usability with demand for clean straightforward user journeys
- improved automation of standard activities (such as GIA to ISA transfer)
- clear, understandable client reporting
Also highlighted were areas of development which are less important to advisers or their clients. For example, the addition of complex or esoteric investments and tax structures, extended investment modelling/analysis tools or building self-managed discretionary portfolios are not priorities for the vast majority of advisers - as emphasised in their feedback.
Our commitment to the Elevate proposition
Direct adviser feedback has proven to be an invaluable insight into how our business should progress and I am now more convinced than ever of the need to retain two distinct platform propositions - I believe that it is only by doing this that we can best serve the needs of different advisers and their clients.
We have, therefore, decided to maintain Elevate and Wrap as two distinct platform propositions and intend to invest in the development of both services.
Specifically, we will invest in Elevate to deliver a highly streamlined platform service that offers a clean, low impact adviser experience improving the efficiency of plan execution, straightforward adviser branded 'on track' client reporting, high quality tax wrappers with full 'at retirement' flexibility and access to market-leading whole of market investment solutions at competitive pricing.
What happens next?
Now we are much clearer on adviser requirements and what our strategy needs to be for Elevate, we can begin to finalise our detailed plans.