Platform Premier League 2018: where did your wrap rank?

It's that time of year again: find out where your platform ranked in this year's Platform Premier League.

For the first time in the history of our platform Premier League, Arsenal are no longer managed by Arsene Wenger. Meanwhile at Fidelity FundsNetwork, the platform is getting ready for a new boss after Pat Shea's decision to retire later this year.

His replacement has now been announced: Jackie Boylan, who joined FundsNetwork in 2017 after working at BT Financial Group, a subsidiary of Australian wealth manager Westpac Group. Will new heads help either platform or football club?

For the first time in the history of our platform Premier League, Arsenal are no longer managed by Arsene Wenger. Meanwhile at Fidelity FundsNetwork, the platform is getting ready for a new boss after Pat Shea's decision to retire later this year.

His replacement has now been announced: Jackie Boylan, who joined FundsNetwork in 2017 after working at BT Financial Group, a subsidiary of Australian wealth manager Westpac Group. Will new heads help either platform or football club?

Bournemouth and Parmenion may not be the biggest players in their league but they consistently punch above their weight.

Last season Bournemouth played an exciting brand of football to challenge the top teams. Discretionary fund manager and platform Parmenion has a product that is being well received by IFAs and is known for good service levels. They are two exciting prospects for the months ahead.

Zurich’s UK platform has not made any massive strides in the market, with assets just shy of £10 billion as of Q2 2018 (according to Fundscape data). Brighton is also a club that has not taken the Premier League by storm since it was promoted two seasons ago. Both could do with upping their game.

A big win came earlier this year for Zurich when network Openwork announced it was choosing it for a new platform. But it still needs to gain more traction among traditional IFAs and away from the restricted giants.

Just as lowly Burnley managed to rock the Premier League giants with a stellar performance last season, Embark has grown from humble beginnings to challenge the traditional hierarchy of the platform table.

The Sipp provider/platform has grown to £11.5 billion of assets (although it is still loss-making) and gained decent traction with the low-cost, no-frills wrap it launched last year. Embark has also signalled its intention to launch an international direct-to-consumer offer. Let’s just hope that works out better than Burnley’s European venture this year, which saw them knocked out in the Europa League qualifying rounds.

Raymond James offers a different proposition from many of the other platforms in here with its advice franchise model. Equally Cardiff are a team without any big stars, and are unlikely to compete with the bigger clubs this year.

Chelsea and Standard Life Wrap have used their lucrative backers to achieve success in recent years.

Standard Life Wrap, often praised by its loyal advisers for the quality of customer service, has grown to become one of the giants of the platform space.

But uncertainty lies ahead. Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is reportedly trying to sell his majority stake in Chelsea. While Standard Life Aberdeen’s (SLA) sale of its insurance business to Phoenix earlier this year upset advisers – particularly when they realised the Wrap Sipp is being moved to Phoenix, even if the platforms are staying with the mothership, SLA.

Crystal Palace struggled under the brief tenure of Frank de Boer last season, losing their first four league games without scoring. But under the leadership of new manager Roy Hodgson their fortunes turned around, and the club finished respectably mid-table.

The Elevate platform also struggled under AXA, but Standard Life has given it a new lease of life.

Last season Everton splashed out over £170 million on building a new team. Aviva meanwhile spent an undisclosed amount (although unlikely to be pocket change) on building a shiny new platform with FNZ.

Both projects did not work out as planned.  

Everton’s signings turned out to be massively overvalued and Aviva’s platform switch brought silicon chaos to IFAs.

But things are now looking up for the Merseyside club, and Aviva seems to have come out of the other side of its replatforming hell.

Nucleus made the jump to the bigger stage this year with its float on the AIM, just as London club Fulham returned to the Premier League with an impressive young, attacking team.

Both will be worth watching as they compete with the big boys.

It is hard being the smallest football club or platform. That both Huddersfield and Hubwise are up there and competing is impressive, but they might need to step up again this year.

A platform deal with Tenet announced last year will help, but Hubwise will have to do more of these if it wants to stay in the top league.

It is only two years since Leicester produced the biggest ever Premier League upset to win the title against all odds. But things have not gone smoothly since then.

The club sacked title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri nine months after lifting the trophy and over the summer lost the talismanic Riyad Mahrez, just as Ascentric lost its boss Jon Taylor this summer.

Expectations are big at both Quilter and Liverpool this year after some improvements in the past 12 months. While the football club reached the Champions League final, Quilter managed to separate from its owner to float on the stock market.

Now the question is whether both can kick on and be at the top of the table this time next year.

It would be fair to say it has been Transact’s year so far in the platform market. The company finally launched a float this year (search ‘Integrafin’) and a strong share price rise took it almost immediately into the FTSE 250.

In the Premier League, 2018 has so far belonged to Manchester City: the club finished last season with 100 points, 19 points ahead of its nearest competitor. Plus both Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola and Transact chief executive Ian Taylor have something of the hipster about them (well, Transact did begin in Shoreditch).

Big-money deals have excited in recent years at Aegon, with the acquisition of Cofunds making it the largest platform in the UK. But recent technology upgrade problems have given Aegon something of a headache.

Similarly at Manchester United the £89 million signing of Paul Pogba in 2016 (a world record at the time) excited fans, but the Frenchman's recent performances have not impressed many, most notably manager Jose Mourinho. Rumours have linked both Aegon and Man United to further acquisitions. But will the foreign owners give them what they want?  

It is hard to know what is going on at Alliance Trust Savings (ATS). Its investment trust owner Alliance Trust recently said it had received several bids for the platform, but so far no deal to buy ATS appears to have been struck.

At least ATS is in a better shape than Newcastle, which current owner Mike Ashley has reportedly been looking to sell for some time. Despite reports of interested parties, no one has yet met the Sports Direct owner’s valuation.

Consistent performer Novia posted a 110% rise in profit to £2.7 million in 2017, driven by record flows of £1.2 billion over the year.

South coast club Southampton did not enjoy anything like this impressive performance last season. But a strong burst at the end of the season ensured they stayed in the Premier League, much as Novia has managed to compete with the larger contenders over the past 10 years.

AJ Bell’s combination of advised and direct-to-consumer offerings match the versatility of Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino. His approach can see the team go direct to Harry Kane up front when it needs to but also happily build up play through midfielders.

(OK, so delays to Tottenham’s new stadium would have made a good comparison with certain platforms’ technology upgrades, but we had already done the Photoshop by the time the club announced the delay.)

Strong ownership has seen Seven Investment Management (7IM) prosper in recent years, with the Caledonia Investment Trust backing it to grow and add advisers.

Watford has also benefitted from the ownership of the Pozzo family, helping the club become a Premier League regular in recent seasons.

There were difficulties for James Hay last year as an ongoing battle with the taxman over Elysian Fuels investments continued to hold back its financial results.

The Hammers have also been hamstrung by off-field troubles, with the move to the former Olympic Stadium continuing to cause problems for fans and players alike.

Significant investment has been the name of the game for True Potential this year. It announced plans to build a blockchain platform, the first in the UK, and has made developments to its core offering.

Similarly Wolves signed a hosts of star players after promotion last year and the Midlanders are already making waves. Will European adventures await?

How did your platform do last year? Find out here. 

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