Awards Criteria 2024

Here are the shortlists for the judged awards (as opposed to those decided by adviser voting).

The process is quite simple. In advance of the judging days, each judge marks each section of the submissions. At the start of each category session, the chair, Keith Richards, CEO of the PFS, asks each judge to nominate their 1-2-3. If, there is any significant digression from the scores, he will ask for further thought and discussion.

Those who feature make up the shortlist.

  • The platform of the year – 2024

    This award will go to the intermediary platform that the judges deem to have made the greatest advance or been the most innovative in 2023/4 but, importantly, that also demonstrates consistency over a period, as platforms are for the longer term. The winner will have demonstrated strong sales in their target market during the previous 12 months. The winner may be in the mainstream or successful in a significant segment of the market. The first criterion once again will be around the customer. The judges will be looking for evidence that the fair value for customers and safe custody of assets are core to the proposition.

    In addition, platforms will be expected to demonstrate how they help the adviser provide excellent financial planning. Service to financial advice firms is important to supporting that adviser proposition and the judges will want to see concrete evidence of good service to financial advice firms. Finally, the winner of Platform of the Year must demonstrate continued investment and improvement in the proposition.

  • Best platform provider (AUM over £40 bn)

    The award for the best larger platform, with AUM over £40 bn. Voted for by advisers.

  • Best platform provider (AUM up to £40 bn)

    The award for the best smaller platform, with AUM over £40 bn. Voted for by advisers

  • The Equisoft award for best platform service

    This award will go to the platform delivering the best administration, functionality, ability to integrate with tools and usability. Awarded on adviser marks on these four criteria.

  • Leading platform for model portfolio services

    This award is for the platform that best supports advisers (and their clients) using model portfolio services (MPS) from discretionary fund managers. Awarded to the platform given the highest marks in a survey of leading discretionary managers.

  • Leading adviser practice (less than 10 advisers)

    The judges will be looking for evidence that a first-rate customer offering, demonstrating great value for money, is supported by the platform and other tech products. The judges will wish to know how your tech stack works for you and which platform, ATR, cashflow, practice management system et al you employ. They will also want to know how technology lowers costs and risk whilst increasing efficiency and the client proposition. The judges will wish to know how the issue of cyber security Is addressed.

    The judges will be looking at total customer cost - asset management, platform and adviser, and evidence that this represents great customer value. They will also want to see that the business is successful both in terms of overall turnover and margin. Differing client propositions might necessitate the use of more than one platform. In that case, the judges will be looking for evidence of appropriate client segmentation and informed platform selection.

  • Leading adviser business (10 advisers or more)

    The judges will be looking for evidence that a first-rate customer offering, demonstrating great value for money, is supported by the platform(s) and other tech products. The judges will wish to know how your tech stack works for you and which platform(s), ATR, cashflow, practice management system et al you employ. They will also want to know how technology lowers costs and risk whilst increasing efficiency and the client proposition. The judges will wish to know how the issue of cyber security Is addressed.

    The judges will be looking at total customer cost - asset management, platform and adviser, and evidence that this represents great customer value. They will also want to see that the business is successful both in terms of overall turnover and margin. Differing client propositions might necessitate the use of more than one platform. In that case, the judges will be looking for evidence of appropriate client segmentation and informed platform selection.

  • Leading adviser for sustainable investment

    A firm with all the best adviser qualities as itemised above together with a leading sustainable proposition matching their chosen target market. The judges will consider which of the six adviser finalists combines a compelling advice and financial planning offering with a well-resourced, sustainable investment solution that fits their customer.

  • Best Use of Platform Technology

    This award is for a project that is a partnership between a technology provider and a platform. Each winning partner will receive a trophy. The judges will initially wish to understand what business challenge the project was designed to solve. The winners will be the partnership that delivers the best solution to this, demonstrating successful use of technology and offering a superior service from a customer perspective and business results. Importantly, the judges will be looking for evidence of improved value for money for the customer. The judges will be looking at what business capabilities are enhanced, how it integrates with other systems, who are the key users and what are the key functions. They will also be looking at the impact on the business, on customers, market uniqueness, delivery on time and budget plus delivery on the basics such as security, reliability and regulatory compliance.

  • Leading digital platform

    The award reflects the growing importance of financial technology and automation for client engagement and user experience in investment and financial planning in both the direct to consumer, intermediated and hybrid sectors. The award will go to the platform, or the core component behind a platform, that is a leader in the deployment of technology to improve the quality of guidance or advice and that shortens and eases the customer journey, one that customers find easiest to use. This may include the use of non-obvious sources of data to add new insights, speed up the process and enrich the investor experience. It may involve the use of algorithms or even artificial intelligence to better inform an investor or adviser. Or, it may involve smart and novel ways to engage investors in a way that keeps them coming back to the platform to engage.

    The judges will be looking for the most exciting development in the application of financial technology that encourages both experienced investors and new investors to engage.

  • Leading retirement proposition

    This award is for the platform with the best all round retirement/drawdown solution - an on-platform retirement proposition that enables the customer to look across tax wrappers and manage all investments together, to enable genuinely holistic investment methodology, as well as offering a competitive personal pension proposition.

    The judges will be looking at the integration of investment and withdrawal categories and support of client reporting.

  • Leading Planning Tool Provider

    For the best smaller adviser firm with up to 10 advisers, with a first-rate customer offering, demonstrating great value for money, supported by the platform(s) and systems for processes such as research, cashflow, model portfolios, benchmarking, reviewing and reporting. The judges will be looking where possible for integrated technology that works for staff and for clients. The judges will wish to know how the issue of cyber security Is addressed. The judges will be looking at total customer cost - asset management, platform and adviser, and evidence that this represents great customer value. They will also want to see that the business is successful both in terms of overall turnover and margin. Differing client propositions might necessitate the use of more than one platform. In that case, the judges will be looking for evidence of appropriate client segmentation and informed platform selection. Once again, we are recognising the impact of sustainability on investment and the crucial role advisers will play.

    The judges will be looking for evidence of significant traction in the market that demonstrates broad support amongst the adviser community. In addition, they will be keen to see how well it integrates with the platform and other technology in the adviser stack.

    *This award is not for research, rating or data providers as there is another award specifically aimed at them.

  • Leading investment research, ratings, and data provider

    The advisers’ choice of the leading and most credible fund ratings and research provider. Voted for by advisers.

  • Leading innovation award

    This award quite simply celebrates innovation, whether a platform (conventional retail, robo or hybrid), planning tool or application that makes life better for platforms, advisers or investors, that breaks new ground in novel ways at a lower cost for the client or the adviser. We are quite simply looking for innovative technology application that makes the judges go “Wow!”. That said, the judges will, of course, wish to know exactly what the problem is that the innovative product is solving. The judges will look at products launched in the last 18 months, and which are live at the date of submission.

  • Best wealth management platform

    This award is for vertically integrated platforms providing integrated asset management and/or financial advice/planning capability. The judges will be looking for a proposition that offers a straightforward solution that meets the requirements of target customers and offers great value for money. Suitability and value for money will be key to winning this award. The platform should enable the adviser to offer a range of portfolios that meet the requirements of their customers in terms of risk and suitability. The judges will want to know exactly what segment of investors the proposition is targeted.

  • Leading platform for discretionary investment

    This award is for the best platform used by advisers wishing to run discretionary portfolios, either models or bespoke, under their own permissions or the platform’s. The judges will be looking for a high level of efficiency in execution and dealing. The judges will expect investment scope to match the needs of their target customers. The platform should enable the adviser firm to offer a range of portfolios that meet the requirements of their customers in terms of risk and outcome. The efficiency of trading and reporting will be essential. Entrants should ensure that all charges incurred by customers are shown clearly and they should demonstrate that they represent value for money for the end customer.

  • Leading innovation in workplace solutions

    The judges will be looking for the most innovative and effective workplace platform, platform component, or use of innovative technology; the proposition that meets the needs of members (most crucially), employer and adviser (where appropriate) and that offers a broad range of benefits and demonstrates success in gaining employees’ awareness and participation. The winner could be a flexible benefits platform, a corporate wrap or other forms of benefits hub. The judges will be looking for a product that has shown innovation in attracting employees to the scheme whilst demonstrating sound processes and efficient administration and support. The winner will have demonstrated innovative use of technology and expertise to build a proposition that addresses the challenging issues currently in the workplace market. The winner will have established some traction in the market and have demonstrated appeal to customers. The award will be open to both employee benefit and corporate platforms and other technology propositions that increase or improve engagement between employee and employer.

  • Best institutional platform

    The winner will be a regulated institutional platform that provides access to liquid and illiquid funds (primarily*), and ETFs and securities, over a wide jurisdiction, enabling specifically retail platforms and also wealth managers and third-party providers to access and trade funds. The judges will reward the breadth and quality of services offered to platforms and wealth managers, which may include:

    • Custody/order routing – coverage of markets and fund types
    • Offering a ‘one-stop shop’ to get 100% coverage.
    • Ease of transferring assets, in line with FCA/STAR initiative.
    • Contractual settlement
    • Distribution/compliance support – assistance with managing contractual relationships with funds as well as KYC requirements
    • Value added services – data, reporting, sustainability etc.
    • Other than as a provider of fully disclosed or ‘Model B’ services, the winner will not serve or seek to secure end investors or platform users such as advisers directly but rather to serve firms that do.
  • Best strategic platform partner

    For the provider of essential or enriching solutions and services to platforms* that enables broader coverage, functionality, efficiency, or innovation.

    Service might include:

    • Back-office activities and streamlining operational processes
    • Securities trading
    • Ease of transferring assets, in line with FCA/STAR initiative (if appropriate)
    • Illustration services
    • CASS, safety of client money and safeguarding investors assets
    • Supporting ESG and impact investing
    • Access to fully integrated product wrappers (ISA SIPP etc)
    • Provision of branded UI for platform operator partner advisers and clients
    • Full reporting for partners to industry bodies including FCA Pension Regulator HMRC etc

    The judges will be keen to learn of the ability to integrate with the platform and other industry software (API depth and breadth) for data and execution.

  • Leading platform journalists

    The award for the journalist that covers the platform sector with a true understanding of what is going on and why and who pens original articles.

  • Leading adviser for sustainable investment

    A firm with all the best adviser qualities as itemised above together with a leading sustainable proposition matching their chosen target market. The winner will be chosen from the 6 finalists of the two leading adviser awards.

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