SEI says its UK platform assets leapt 33% in ’17

The UK wealth management platform business of US-based, NASDAQ-listed SEI Investments saw a 33% increase in its assets under administration in 2017, to £41.4bn, driven in part by a strong ISA season and a shift of assets into investment portfolios from pensions that was made possible by the UK’s recent pension freedoms legislation.  

Of the additional £9.3bn, £7.7bn came from net sales, and most of the rest from positive market growth, SEI said in a statement on Thursday.

During the year ending on 31 December, it added 124,000 accounts; increased its total number of accounts by 38%, to 445,000; and saw its relationship with the Tilney Group extended for another six years, SEI reported.

The year also saw it process almost £23bn in on- and off-book business.

Martin Steer (pictured left),  commercial director for SEI’s UK wealth platform operations, said a growing trend “over the last two years” that the company has witnessed has been a move by its client companies to sign up to longer contracts with SEI. This is happening, he says, because there’s a growing realisation that moving assets onto a platform, and changing platforms, “is such a large, cumbersome thing for an organisation to do”.

“It used to be that companies signed up for a two- to three-year window; now most of the firms are looking for a seven- to 10-year contract,” he added.

“Very rarely, now, do any of our clients ask for a three year term.”

This is helpful to SEI because it allows the company to plan longer-term, Steer noted.

SEI wealth platform business provides an outsourcing (Steer prefers to call it “co-sourcing”) option for banks and wealth managers around the world. In the US its clients include financial services giant Wells Fargo, while in the UK, in addition to Tilney, include WH Ireland and four robo-wealth management start-ups.

Last year, according to Steer, the company signed up three new platform clients, two of which are now live and the third, a “robo-digital firm”, is set to join the rest in the first quarter.

Heading up SEI’s UK wealth platform and private banks business as managing director is Brett Williams, a UK platform industry veteran, whose previous roles included chief executive of such other platform companies as Selestia, Cofunds and Skandia UK.

According to company information, the SEI wealth platform supports trading and transactions on 149 stock exchanges in 55 countries and in 41 currencies.

The parent company, which is based in Oaks, Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia, was founded in 1968 by Alfred West Jr, who remains its chairman and chief executive, as Simulated Environments Inc.

Last week it posted its full year results for 2017, which saw its income rise 6% to $396.9m during the year, on revenue that grew 9% to $1.53bn.

In the UK, SEI is based in the Alphabeta building in Finsbury Square, pictured above, which straddles the intersection of London’s tech district, centred around the Old Street Roundabout, and its financial centre, the City.

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