Scottish Widows Platform is one of only four UK platform providers to hold the highest AKG platform rating of ‘A’, which is described as ‘superior’ financial strength. AKG’s financial strength ratings provide financial advisers with an independent assessment of a company’s financial resilience. The financial strength assessment/rating is pinned on the operational business level, but also considers relevant Group structure and the parental strength and support of Lloyds Banking Group, which has already invested £125 million in the Scottish Widows Platform. 2024 will see further improvements in technology, ease of use and service levels allowing us to further deliver on our ambition to offer a market-leading adviser experience.
Jonathan Sandell, Group Head of Platform Proposition commented: “AKG’s financial strength ratings are a widely trusted tool within the adviser community and this rating provides the strongest validation of our platform’s financial resilience.
Under Consumer Duty, the FCA has been clear that there is a greater need for advisers to look along the distribution chain and consider a range of foreseeable harms. The AKG rating goes beyond solvency to consider the ability of a company to operate in the future, so that advisers and clients can have a sense of whether a company will survive and whether their expectations are likely to be met.
We believe that financial strength is a strong proxy for the future health of a platform, since a provider must have the ability to continually invest in functionality, user experience and service. Any platform that cannot invest risks stagnation, acquisition and the potential re-platforming of client portfolios.
There is still a belief among some advisers that if assets sit with a custodian, or if there is a compensation scheme, then financial strength does not matter. Without strong financial support, the risk of business failure is more likely and could, ultimately, lead to a distressing and uncertain route to asset recovery or compensation for investors. It’s not the experience any customer would expect. And, under the expectations of Consumer Duty, it could be seen as a foreseeable harm.“
1 The specific entity assessed by AKG is Embark Investment Services Limited, which is wholly owned by Scottish Widows.
About Scottish Widows
Founded in 1815, Scottish Widows is part of Lloyds Banking Group, the UK’s largest digital bank and financial services group. With nearly £170bn assets under administration and 6 million customers, Scottish Widows’ award‐ winning product range includes workplace and individual pensions, annuities, life cover, critical illness, income protection as well as savings and investment products.
The Scottish Widows Platform is a digital platform for financial advisers, which brings together cutting-edge technology, market-leading tools, and an award-winning service and support team. The platform has around 6,500 mutual funds available from more than 200 fund managers, as well as a wide range of listed stocks, shares, ETFs, and Investment Trusts via a fully integrated dealing solution. Scottish Widows Platform has been recognised with a range of prestigious industry awards and ratings, showing commitment to supporting financial advisers and their clients. The Scottish Widows Platform is provided and administered by Embark Investment Services Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Embark Group Limited.
AKG is in an independent organisation whose core purpose is the provision of financial analysis and review services to support the wider financial services sector and its customers. AKG’s financial strength rating takes account of a range of criteria including: capital & asset position; expense position & profitability; structure & size of funds within the company; parental strength (and likely attitude towards supporting the company); operational capability; management strength & capability; strategic position & rationale; brand and image; typical fund performance and product/service features; operating environment; and ability to withstand external forces. https://www.akg.co.uk