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How to Decide on the Best Platform for You and Your Client

Operational efficiency and seamless design are key to exceptional client experience. We need to reflect on our use of platforms, from both a client and business perspective. How can we make well-informed decisions for our clients and decide if they should change platforms?

In last week’s XY+ web event, Nathan Fradley and Robert Warry joined the XY+ inner circle to discuss their approaches to deciding which financial platforms and wraps to use. They highlighted the importance of making the right decision and explained how they make their own platform choices to meet their clients needs and improve their business performance.

How do you decide which platforms to utilise?

Nathan and Rob exemplified the importance of maintaining a customer-oriented perspective when making decisions about which platforms you should use. Here are the steps they suggest you take to assess if you are using the right platform:

1. Establish transparency with your client

Understanding your clients’ needs is a business 101 principle. Rob and Nathan both reinforced the need to thoroughly know your clients. Discuss the investment menu and understand the expectations they have for you as their adviser. This will help in establishing a great ongoing relationship. Rob says it’s important for us to ascertain their interests and reflect on efficiencies to decide what platform creates the best seamless experience for them. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s important to your client?
  • Are their current products meeting their needs?
  • How involved does your client want to be in the transaction process?
  • What are your clients’ values? 
  • Any biases about the market? What’s their background and previous work experience? 

2. Understand client boundaries and relationship expectations  

If a client is seeking a financial adviser to assist with organising transactions on their behalf, it is important to consider which product features are unnecessary. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How informed would your client like to be about their financials? What level of detail are they interested in being updated about?
  • What does a client want from me?
  • Do they want an ongoing relationship?
  • Do they want me to be able to transact for them?
  • What are they seeking advice for in the first place?

2. Understand client boundaries and relationship expectations  

  • How informed would your client like to be about their financials? What level of detail are they interested in being updated about?
  • What does a client want from me?
  • Do they want an ongoing relationship?
  • Do they want me to be able to transact for them?
  • What are they seeking advice for in the first place?

3. Understand clients risk profile, taste and preferences

You need to understand your client’s investment tastes and preferences, and match these with investments accordingly. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do they want to invest in? 
  • What is their risk profile?
  • What have they previously invested in?
  • What influenced their previous investment decisions?

4. Consider all mitigating factors

Unless there is something substantial that warrants a need for change or a major benefit, there is no need to move your client's investments. Some aspects to consider in this scenario are:

  • Diversified portfolio – Rob highlighted the importance of not having a substantial allocation of shares in one area. The example he provided was a client having a significant value of shares in a banking company they used to work for and this being counted twice as an asset on the platform. It’s important to take all factors and investment values into account. 
  • Cost & Feature comparison – Assess the fees and features of competitor products - capabilities, ease of use, client access and cost. It’s also important to involve the client as much as possible, for instance, informing the client if they want to do an element themselves if they’re able to.  
  • Tax – A lot of industry funds will do fees at a group level. Therefore, you won’t get your own tax offset with your superannuation fund. It’s important to investigate the tax implications for your client and see if there is a cost-saving available to them.
  • Performance and ease of use – Consider whether the platform is easy to use for yourself and the client. Assess whether it provides a solution for accessibility for your client or fast-tracks work for you. At the end of the day if you are more efficient with your business you can reduce the cost of your advice. 

5. Make the right choice for you and your client

Choose the platform that does all the things you require at the cheapest cost. You become platform agnostic when deciding based off what is important to the client, what products can do, what needs to be done and ultimately what is the most affordable option. 

Platform Picks

Rob’s top three platform picks

  1. Macquarie Wrap – Rob said he is currently using Macquarie Wrap for most of his new clients. The key reasons for this are his licensee can access for a great price and it often suits the size of the client (for clients who have $500k+). The second key benefit is they accept digital signatures.
  2. Asgard Infinity eWRAP  – Typically for clients with less than $500k. Rob also likes some of the investments held inside this eWRAP.
  3. Rob recommends this platform for larger clients as it’s reliable and has a great range of features. 
  4. Praemium – Rob enjoys the fact Praemium allows clients to have a little bit more control. He believes flexibility is a key selling point. The key benefit of this platform is achieving diversification with your client’s portfolio. 

Nathan’s top three platform picks

  1. BT Panorama - Ideal for single clients (or single accounts) and has a good ethical investment layer.
  2. Netwealth – Has a good balance of flexibility, price and green adoption. He says this account is best for multiple accounts or a couple who has an investment account.
  3. AustralianSuper - Is often used as his benchmark. Whatever he decides to use, has to beat AustralianSuper. They've got adviser access, they accept adviser fees, and have ETFs. But they don't do everything or do everything well, so any alternative has to beat this option.

Wrapping it up (see what we did there 😏)

The session covered information about different platforms and wraps, explained how to make the right decision and emphasised the importance of choosing what’s in the best interest for both your clients and business. Nathan emphasised the importance of establishing transparency with your clients and the need to understand both their investor values and ongoing expectations. Rob reaffirmed this viewpoint of making business processes more efficient and utilising platforms that provide clients with a seamless experience. 

The golden rule for the session was this - if your clients are happy, fees are perfectly competitive, and the products are meeting their needs, there is no need to move or change them. A platform change should only occur when there are underlying elements or areas for improvement that would deliver a better benefit/outcome to the client. At the end of the day, your financial advice is concerned with the interests of your client and you simply need to facilitate them with appropriate platforms.