Platform One, the recently-launched wrap platform aimed at advisers with high net worth clients and multiple family offices, says it is finding an unexpectedly high interest, and take-up, from offshore firms, and among UK advisers with offshore clients.
According to Michael Fordham, managing director of Platform One, the international version of the company’s platform is accounting for “roughly half” of the approximately 20 adviser and family office firms that have come onboard since its formal launch at the end of August.
Among the wealth managers and advisory firms that have begun putting their clients’ assets onto Platform One International’s systems are Gibraltar-based European Financial Planning; London-based Baigrie Davies, for its offshore clients; the Family Office, also based in Gibraltar, and Pacific Sterling, an adviser based in Papua, New Guinea.
“We knew there would be interest in the offshore platform, but we had not anticipated that it would be as strong as the onshore demand, since offshore advisers are not facing the pressure of having to comply with the Retail Distribution Review requirements that make platforms an obvious answer,” Fordham said.
“But at the high-net-worth end of the market, even in offshore circles, some of the most compelling reasons for making use of a platform, such as creating a repeat revenue business and adding to the capital value of the adviser’s firm, outweigh the concerns that the more mainstream offshore advisers might have about switching clients to a transparent, fee-based service.
Accordingly, they are converting to an RDR compliant service without the regulatory requirement to do so.”
Fordham said some of the offshore advisory firms that have signed up to use the Platform One service are at the same time upgrading to MiFID-compliant status from Insurance Mediation Directive (IMD) compliance, so that they are no longer limited to selling portfolio bonds, but may instead “fully service their cross-border clients” throughout the EU.
MiFID, the European Union’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, was brought in by the EU in 2007 in an effort to harmonise how a vast range of financial instruments, rather than =just insurance products, as is the case with the IMD, are sold throughout the bloc.
Ability to consolidate assets
Fordham said offshore advisers were attracted by his platform’s “whole of market” service that enables them to consolidate and manage their clients’ assets in one place, and not being limited in terms of choice of products or asset types.
Currently this choice includes a variety of bond providers, qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes and specialist pension products, such as Section 615s.
Platform One, which Fordham has described as looking to be “the platform market’s Fortnum & Mason’s”, makes use of the administration facilities and services of Moventum, the established Luxembourg offshore fund platform provider, and Banque de Luxembourg as its custodian.
Platform One is owned primarily by six investment companies and advisory firms: the WAY Group fund management company of Wimborne; Ward Goodman Financial Services, a Dorset-based financial adviser; London-based Cheviot Asset Management; and three pensions administrators – Gibraltar-registered London & Colonial, Surrey-based Section 615 Ltd, and Salisbury-based European Pensions Management.
All the staff and management have a stake as well, including Fordham, a serial entrepreneur in investment systems and administration businesses who is also one of the original founders of the Ascentric, the Bath-based UK wrap platform.
Both the UK and international Platform One operations have been up and running since late last year, to enable the shareholder companies to road-test its systems, according to Fordham, who is based at the company’s offices in Wimborne, Dorset.