ASIC platforms review likely to be a boost for investors

THE securities regulator is to push ahead with a review of investment platforms which collectively house more than $100 billion of superannuation savings.

THE securities regulator is to push ahead with a review of investment platforms which collectively house more than $100 billion of superannuation savings.

The review is likely to lead to a boost to rules protecting investors that have savings sitting on platforms, giving them the same rights as if they directly owned the investment products.

It could also pave the way to make it easier for fund managers to have investment products listed on an investment platform, a move that could pressure the financial returns enjoyed by platform providers.

Used by financial planners, investment platforms are the link or "hub" in the chain between the end consumer and underlying fund product.

With the market dominated by the major banks, including Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac, platforms offer significant benefits to financial planners given they can easily manage the investment portfolio of their clients.

"The platforms sector has changed and grown considerably, and continues to develop and expand," the ASIC commissioner, Peter Kell, said yesterday.

"This is a trend we expect to continue with new forms of vertically integrated business models emerging. We also anticipate that more investors will ... make direct investments without financial advice."

Financial advisers usually use two platforms to manage client funds. At least 50 per cent of advisers use Commonwealth Bank-owned First Choice, this is followed by 30 per cent that use Westpac's BT Wrap.

Among ASIC's proposals, platform operators would be required to meet specified standards surrounding corporate structures and compliance issues.