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From Aldi to Apple: Three ways advisers describe platforms to clients

21 April 2016

While confused investors were busy Googling ‘mutual’, ‘yield’, and ‘gross’, the financial services industry gave them something else to search for: platforms. So how do advisers clear this hurdle? We asked three how they describe platforms to clients. Do they even use the word?

Bread

‘You don’t go to Heinz for your beans’

IFA Pete Chadborn said he doesn’t shy away from using the word ‘platform’ with clients from the off. “I usually ask clients if they are familiar with the term ‘fund supermarket’ and, if not, I’ll use a supermarket analogy. For example: Sainsbury’s is a facilitator. You can buy a range of products from its shelves, saving you from having to go to Heinz for your beans and Hovis for your bread. A platform, I tell clients, operates in a similar way. You can look up and down the aisles for the most appropriate products.”

‘It’s a bit like the thing that calculates your phone bill’

Adviser and business owner Lee Robertson is also confident in using the word ‘platform’. “We describe platforms as ‘enablers’, of online valuations, of ease-of-trading, and as things that can give you a consolidated view of all your holdings. We use the word ‘consolidated’ a lot. We say a platform will help to build a picture of a client’s finances. We might say that it’s a bit like the software that produces your phone bill. We only ever talk about platforms as support propositions for our wider business.”

‘We can access the whole network’

Adviser Keith Churchouse said he too is comfortable using the word ‘platform’ when speaking to customers. “I refer to a train station and say to the client that what they are doing is buying a slot on the platform and the fund managers are the trains. I say that we can access the whole network from this platform and all we have to do is select the trains we want. Then I say I will make sure you’re on the right train and, if we’re not going down the tracks as expected, we’ll hop off and order up another one.”

And then this from Zurich’s very own Freddie Findlater…

“Platforms are a bit like iTunes. So iTunes (the platform) lets you choose from thousands of songs to store on your iPod (your portfolio). The most popular bands (fund houses) and their albums (fund ranges) can be found on iTunes but, if the prospect of sifting through thousands of bands and songs is daunting, iTunes can also suggest playlists (model portfolios; risk-rated funds etc…) and/or compilation albums (multi-manager; multi-asset funds etc…)”

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