It’s a question often heard at stations surrounding the Square Mile, home to many of the UK’s largest asset managers, wealth managers and life companies. But it’s probably not asked with as much rigour inside the offices of those companies as perhaps it should be.
We’re, of course, talking about the platform by which you would showcase your investment funds to consumers – your digital shop window. In the race to take control of direct to consumer investment fund distribution, are companies putting enough strategic consideration into their platform of choice?
Let’s look at the options.
The Kings Cross
The all singing, all dancing platform which lists a wide range of product wrappers and the broadest range of funds possible. Essentially to a consumer, it’s a comparison site or supermarket. When selecting their product through a platform like this, the customer (and their advisor) are firmly in control and they have a holistic view at their fingertips. Little digging around the web is required to make investment decisions and the association with a brand can have a positive effect on customer trust and advocacy.
Whilst some companies have made a success of it, the build of such a platform is complex and lengthy and keeping it competitive could become an ongoing burden.
The Sloane Square
Or, should companies offer a smaller, more compact and direct platform to help investors get greater clarity over their own range of funds, at a more competitive price point? By doing so, they can market their products their own way and have the opportunity to better engage with customers over the added benefits of their products specifically.
The plusses are simple here – potential clients have access to the products they want, whilst companies can get to market quicker and more cheaply.
To pull off a more restrained platform, there must be a reasonable level of certainty that consumers are drawn to the strength of a brand, and they must be confident that the provider can meet their investment needs and is a viable long-term choice.
Of course, the logic here has yet to be truly tested, but the speed of technological change means that trial and error can happen quickly – as we are seeing all around us.
Only once a company knows which platform would work best should consideration then turn to how to implement the solution. Do you build, buy, partner or white label?
But if the journey to that decision is as rushed as the dash for the 18:23 out of Victoria, then fund providers could find themselves on the wrong train altogether.