Platforms: Planning for the great growth story
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First, there was the proliferation of managed funds that saw the advent of master trusts. Then a surge in popularity of direct share ownership saw the creation of investment wraps that quickly infiltrated advice practices, promising efficacy and better business outcomes.

The major institutions, having long dominated virtually every aspect of financial services, soon did the same in the platform market. But, where they were once ahead of their time, offerings became homogenised and the supremacy lost.

In the last decade in particular, technological developments, legislative reform and the changing expectations of both consumers and financial advisers have given rise to innovation.

Enter the new players. Collaborating on practice management as opposed to simply delivering product, independent, specialist operators are transforming the humble platform into a whole of business solution - one that traditional providers simply can't or won't match. Strategic Insights data from December 2017 shows the likes of Netwealth, OneVue, HUB24, Praemium and Powerwrap combined command less than 10% of the Australian market's total $821.4 billion in funds under administration. And, Netwealth only just scrapes into the top 10 with 1.9%.

The top five comprises Westpac/BT Financial Group (18.4%), AMP (17.6%), Commonwealth Bank/ Colonial First State (14.8%) and NAB/MLC (14.3%).

However, this domination is not reflected by net fund flows. Sitting just outside the top five with 9.8% of market share, Macquarie saw the greatest flows in the 12 months to December 2017, servicing 21.9% of the $21.3 billion generated in total net flows over the period.

Perhaps what's even more interesting though is Netwealth was hottest on Macquarie's tail with 21.2% of net flows - a number that is almost 11 times its market share.

The success is uniform across all of the key smaller providers, with Netwealth, OneVue, HUB24, Praemium and Powerwrap accounting for 40.8% of net flows in the 12 month period - almost five times the providers' combined market share.

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