Having used platforms and fund supermarkets for many years I cannot stress enough that, while essential, they are just another business tool. I do not want to undermine their importance, as they are an essential piece of software that we use to run the business more efficiently and provide clients access to the funds we recommend. However, they do not replace the core disciplines of solid financial planning, they just facilitate it in a more manageable manner.
The majority of our clients have retirement at the heart of their financial planning and whether it is an approved pension scheme, an Isa or a second home, the collective of their assets is their “pension” in the broadest sense. Once we understand a client’s needs and their vision – explaining the concept of wraps and platforms is much easier – it brings together the holistic planning for the future using a range of investments and enables everything to be seen in one place.
My experience of wraps and platforms pretty much goes back to their inception and as clients have come across to us, I have been exposed to all the main providers over the last 10 years or so. But, as I believe happens with most technology, things change and my current preferred provider which has always done a decent job has been overtaken, as I see it.
When looking for a replacement, we have decided for the moment not to limit ourselves to one provider. We will wholly embrace the retail distribution review but I do not think there is absolute clarity from the FSA on whether using just one wrap provider is OK, although they have not said otherwise either. For us, it is also a question of ensuring we have the right wrap/platform proposition for our clients’ needs and they do differ.
What we were looking for was technology that was not going to be immediately outdated, independence, a good user-friendly interface and strong financial resource.
From our perspective, Novia ticked all the boxes and the reputation and track history of the management team behind the business was also a big influence.
We know that the RDR will change things, although we are now virtually RDR-compliant, with a plan to move to chartered status by 2012.
We believe the adviser world will have to change, reducing initial charges and moving more to trail charges.
However, in other ways, what we do will not change. We will continue to stay close to our clients, offer solid finan-cial planning and clear advice on ever changing investment opportunities. What will help us will be leading technologies from modern wrap providers such as Novia.
Kevin Bailey is director of Wessex Investment Management
Readers wishing to contribute their wrap experiences should contact