Why platforms are the iTunes* of the financial services industry

This is article reflects the opinion of the author, not Aviva’s and it isn’t based on fact.

WARNING: The following blog may contain self-indulgent references to progressive rock, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and box office records for concerts at the Shea Stadium. References to clean share classes, super-clean share classes, structured products, basis points, Aviva Investors, Platforum and the FCA view of platforms have either been omitted or kept to an absolute minimum.

Picture an enormous, stagnating, unmanageable, incomprehensible mixture of files, formats, age ranges, values and wrappers. Add to that multiple system and process requirements and the need to retain outdated technology to access it all. The average well established IFA client bank?

Perhaps, but I was actually referring to my record collection. Perhaps more accurately to my record collection as it was around 10 years ago and the range of equipment needed to play vinyl LPs, singles, cassettes and CDs.

The advantage of transferring my music to a single device was the reason for getting my first iPod. But I bought it as another music player rather than a replacement for what I already had. The sudden availability of virtually all music as downloadable files seemed like one more format, far less satisfying than the more physical formats.

OK, obviously I missed the point of iTunes* at first, mistaking it for just another packaged product with a different wrapper.

It’s interesting to reflect that, 10 years on, the record collection I spent over 25 years assembling is still there, but it’s now dwarfed by the music I’ve accumulated since.

What I like to listen to has changed very little, but the ease with which I can access music prompted me to substantially add to my CD collection rather than abandon it. I could listen to more of everything more often than ever before. My interest in music and my capacity to manage it, to take it all in, has increased exponentially.

Platforms are not products, they are the means by which products and wrappers can be traded and accessed – a bit like iTunes*.

The beauty of platforms is they let you efficiently access and manage more than ever before.

The client bank that took so long to assemble can remain in place, retaining its diversity and value. But now you can make it in to something even better and more rewarding than before, a bit like my ever increasing music collection.

Three steps to heaven

So, apart from being a song by Eddie Cochran and a hit for Showaddywaddy, what does ’Three steps to heaven’ have to do with anything? Let me tell you.

Step 1 – You find a Platform to love, sorry…., you find a Platform.

Step 2 – You segment your client bank and identify a profitable, sustainable business model.

Step 3 – You transition client assets across to your new service proposition.

Find out more
If you’re in any way curious about the contents of my iPod read on.

Now That’s What I Call Metaphors – Volume 1

If progressive rock isn’t your thing but my article has struck a chord, I’d love to hear what analogies you use for platforms so please let me know.

*iTunes is a trademark of Apple Inc. and this blog has not been authorised, sponsored or otherwise approved by Apple Inc.

An esoteric Top 10 ‘buy-list’ with a difference
Oh no, not another funds list! No.
This is a list of essential bands which feature prominently in the aforementioned music collection. You may not have heard of all of them (or perhaps any of them for that matter), but they’re definitely well worth investing in:

1. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band: The most underrated front man in the history of rock, and the most appropriately named band. Buy everything.
2. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band: If Picasso had been a musician, he might have come up with something like ‘Trout Mask Replica’. I guarantee you’ll definitely hate it…at first.
3. Emerson, Lake and Palmer: If progressive rock = dinosaurs, then the 2CD compilation ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ = when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.
4. Grand Funk Railroad: Despite being loathed by the music press, this was the biggest (and greatest?) American hard rock band of the early 1970s. They broke the Beatles’ box office record for the Shea Stadium when they sold it out in 72 hours. They had 11 consecutive gold/platinum albums, US number one singles and then somehow disappeared from collective memory. The simply titled ‘Live Album’ is a good starter; ‘Closer To Home’ is their ‘Stairway To Heaven’.
5. Jethro Tull: I’d like to think that everyone’s heard of Ian Anderson’s legendary band, but it’s worth mentioning just in case. Start with ‘Aqualung’ or ‘Living In the Past’, and just keep going.
6. King Crimson: Robert Fripp’s probably more famous now as the husband of Toyah Wilcox, rather than the guitarist and leader of this electrifying band. Try ‘Larks Tongues in Aspic’ – initially it’s about as easy to digest as the title suggests, but stick with it…
7. Love: Everyone should own a copy of ‘Forever Changes’. Get it and you’ll see why.
8. Nazareth: Proof that the finest 70s hard rock was not all Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. Start the evening with ‘Hair Of The Dog’- it always works for me…
9. Van Der Graaf Generator: Progressive rock boring? This is dark, unsettling, addictive stuff. Try ‘A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers’ from ‘Pawn Hearts’ for starters.
10. Yes: Progressive rock still boring? You need to get ‘Close to the Edge’ for a better viewpoint.
WARNING: Prolonged exposure to Progressive Rock can lead to a serious loss of perspective

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