Q&A with BDM Arvin Hulait

3 min read 5 Sep 22

We speak to Arvin Hulait, business development manager at M&G Wealth Platform, about joining the firm, his role, and what adviser firms are looking for in their chosen platform.

Hi Arvin – what’s your role?

My role is Business Development Manager (North) so I look after new relationships in the North of England and work with firms that have so far had very little exposure to M&G Wealth Platform. I’m part of a team of five BDMs plus 4 platform adoption consultants in the region.

When and why did you join M&G Wealth Platform?

I joined in January 2022. Prior to that I had been at a number of major platforms. I liked M&G as a brand, and the growth M&G is looking to achieve with M&G Wealth Platform.  Also, the role is different from ones I’ve done in the past. It’s very focused on introducing firms to the platform so I can concentrate on what I do best. The structure of having a dedicated BDM team, plus a dedicated platform adoption consultancy team and a dedicated ops team is the best I’ve come across.

How are you engaging with firms?

I prefer face-to-face visits but post-Covid 19 there are still a lot of online initial engagements using Microsoft Teams. A large part of my role has been collaboration with IFA firms that were not existing M&G Wealth Platform firms, including firms whose enquiries have been related to the recent adoption of insured funds as part of the fund range. I talk to quite a few firms each week, as well as connecting with several new firms each month. So it’s really busy, which is exciting.

What are firms wanting from a platform – and M&G Wealth in particular?

Having good support is essential for advisers, especially in the current environment.  We have a lot of discussions about our model of support, because getting a platform adoption consultant and a BDM who are fully aligned is a very powerful proposition. Breadth of investment and wrapper choice also remains important: firms need to know they can support every client segment – even when it’s a segment of one.

What things are surprising advisers about the M&G Wealth platform?

A lot of people are surprised by what the platform can offer, such as being one of the few platforms with our own dealing desk  with all-day trading and all-in pricing. The ability to set up multiple ISAs or the direct access we provide to AIM Inheritance Tax ISAs also comes as a welcome surprise.
The breadth of choice on the platform surprises a lot of firms, with access to 20 SIPPs, four offshore bonds and two onshore bonds, a range of SSASs and over 100 DFM options. The ability to manage many clients’ needs on the same platform, even when those needs change, is very appealing.

How price sensitive are firms when you first go in to talk to them?

We’ve always run a value-led rather than a price-led proposition. We never try to compete on being the cheapest because there is a realisation that you tend to get what you pay for – now more so than ever. It was easier in a bull market to justify putting a client in a single multi-asset fund in a cheap tax wrapper and achieving investment growth simply from how markets were trending. But now there are dangers to that model. What’s more important to platform-users now is: “Do I have all the tools I need to navigate markets?”, “Can I and my clients access people who are accountable?”, “Can I get an immediate response when I need it?” And if that means paying 3-4 bps more on the platform charge, firms are prepared to do that. Very few of our adviser conversations are terminated on the topic of price.

What’s the main impetus for firms looking to switch platform?

Again – it’s often coming back to the question of support.  The need for good support is universal,  whether you’re a one-man adviser band or an operation with 50 registered individuals. In fact, research consultants Platforum recently cited it as one of the key triggers for advisers looking to change platform.
I am picking up on a recurring theme where advisers say their platform was doing a great job over the first four or five years of the relationship then they dropped off a bit. Maybe the BDM thought: “We’re definitely a primary platform for that firm, so we can now go and focus on someone else.” It’s surprising how many firms we approach don’t have an aligned BDM and central point of contact with their current platform even though they hold, say, £50 million of client assets on it.

What seems to be the trend in platform servicing in the market?

It does feel like a lot of platforms are struggling to maintain servicing levels. So, we are hearing of advisers who have been moved from in-person to telephony support.  In-person teams are definitely shrinking, often when certain people leave and aren’t replaced, or territories are amalgamated. 
At a time when other platforms are looking to roll things back, we’re proud to be building out our in-person teams and attracting talented individuals from other platforms. Of course, some adviser firms, especially younger ones, love being able to do everything remotely and we’re here to support that. The important thing is being able to serve clients how and when they want—whether that’s online or in-person.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the flexibility I have in how I work with adviser firms. I’ve been given free rein to go out, establish connections with adviser firms, and build relationships. Then if a firm does choose to move to M&G Wealth, I know I can put them in the hands of a really strong platform adoption team. So I’m really well supported in my role and I can be very focused in what I do – and that’s very refreshing.

What are you looking forward to being able to do over the next 6-12 months?

The introduction of our fully digital SIPP will be a huge step forward in functionality. A lot of advisers are looking at technology and thinking how they can use it to future-proof their business. Being able to adopt time-saving efficiencies such as e-signatures and no longer having to chase scanned documents and so on is going to be transformational for lots of firms. So I’m really excited about being able to present digital SIPPs as an addition to firms’ retirement-planning proposition.

Ongoing support from our platform adoption consultants

As Arvin says, “getting a platform adoption consultant and a BDM who are fully aligned is a very powerful proposition”. Hear from our Head of Adoption, Ian McGough, about how our platform adoption consultants are dedicated to helping you have the best platform experience.