This is especially important for us as advisers and for the many and varied needs of our increasingly aware clients. We have used Fidelity FundsNetwork and, to a lesser degree, Cofunds during the recent campaign and have been very pleased with both platforms.
The ability to deal online with speed and efficiency and to have access to the whole of the market has revolutionised life for the adviser. To generate clientspecific illustrations and key feature documents at the touch of a button is a tremendous benefit and to adjust fee/commission ratios seamlessly has given advisers the chance at last to take control, providing quality service and good value to their clients. This is a must in preparation for the imminent TCF requirements of the FSA.
With a single platform, the ease of access to account information provides the adviser with the opportunity to track the performance of individual holdings and to service and manage client portfolios with ease. We have actively encouraged our clients to become more involved in monitoring their investments, and it has proven very popular for the client to obtain a snapshot of their total portfolios from a single source, online.
The main area for improvement, as I see it, lies with a transparent and uniform charging structure in place for all providers available within the wrap.
I know that in a competitive market there should not be a price-fixing mentality, but companies wanting to embark on productpromoting campaigns could always offer discounts to the standard fee structure.
Wraps are the future and although they are still perhaps experiencing growing pains, it is clear that they offer a far better option than placing directly with the product provider.
Insurance companies and investment houses must now deliver or lose market share and this can only be a good thing for the investor.
Chris Ollis is managing director of Bath-based Chris Ollis Financial Services.