Over the years, it’s clear investment platforms have evolved to play a dominant role in many markets, helping financial advisers in the wealth management sector improve efficiency and profitability in their business. We spoke to Caroline Naylor-Renn, INN8’s chief operating officer, to find out more about how platforms have transformed the investment landscape by simplifying administration and increasing investment choice.

What are your thoughts on the financial platform industry in South Africa and how does it differ from the other countries where you’ve worked?

The industry here is very interesting and there are some things that South Africa is ahead in – for example, the use of mobile technology for banking and the fact that platform fees are already quite low compared to some jurisdictions.

Where investors are concerned, the fluctuating currency and economic volatility mean offshore investing is more important here than in other economies. Also, customers in SA appear more engaged with economic and financial affairs in general. There are, for example, more radio and TV shows about personal finance and investments than in any of the other markets I have worked.

However, there are also many common themes across financial platforms globally. Issues including portfolio diversification, the impact of regulatory change like the retail distribution review (RDR), the evolution of financial advice, and the trend towards being customer-centric are important considerations in all markets.

It’s been very interesting getting to know the local market and customer traits, which is what makes my job interesting. For example, client’s in Asia want to see lots of data and are very comfortable with high risk and volatility, whereas clients in the UK are more interested in a simple customer journey with a brand they trust.

Where do you see the financial platform industry going?

Many developments will be driven by advisers expecting more from platforms so that they can spend less time on administration and more time seeing clients. To ensure that it meets their specific business needs, advisers are doing more due diligence on their platform of choice.

While advisers expect more from platforms, this is not just in terms of execution, but through added-value services that help them grow their business by becoming more digital, with better-trained people using efficiency-enhancing technology.

Advisers will expect more collaboration, more data and more integration of platforms into their business processes.

Could you give a few everyday examples of how using a platform can transform a business?

Platforms increase efficiency and effectiveness. They give advisers more time with their customers and reduce the administrative burden by eliminating paper, keying straight into the website before submitting online.

Platforms also give the adviser much more scope to self-serve. There’s no need to phone and wait for a valuation or an update on the transaction submitted because you can follow the transaction or query online at any time.

The best platforms make advisers feel better supported, receiving excellent customer service from knowledgeable people and a dedicated onboarding team to support them while they get the hang of the new website.

Other benefits include better access to quality information, world-class research tools, transparency of transactions, and customer-friendly communications and documents. Importantly, platforms give fast access to the market. Trades are placed quickly and without delays caused by rekeying or operational mistakes caused by a lack of straight-through processing.

Want to free up time so you can concentrate on what you do best, which is advising clients? Click to get INN touch today to find out more about how INN8’s offshore proposition can transform your business.

This article originally appeared on the cover of the September edition of MoneyMarketing.