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D2C website to offer online advice service for £60 an hour

A direct-to-consumer website offering risk profiling and cash flow modelling for free is developing a model for a web-based advice service which charges clients £60 an hour.

Money Guidance first launched in July 2012, offering access to FinaMetrica and Voyant’s risk profiling and financial planning tools for free. The company was forced to remove the FinaMetrica tools a month later after FinaMetrica said it was unaware of the launch plans.

Money Guidance has now been set up under a new Community Interest Company structure, and says as a result FinaMetrica has now agreed to be part of the new site. Voyant has declined to be part of the service.

The Money Guidance website will be made up of three services. It currently offers financial ‘guidance’ with risk profiling from FinaMetrica and cash flow modelling from MoneyVista, a service owned by Royal London which allows consumers to view their finances, including their current account and investment portfolio, in one place.

The second service is a white-labelled D2C platform powered by Investment Funds Direct Limited, also owned by Royal London and which powers the Ascentric platform and adviser platforms including Succession, Towergate and Openwork.

The D2C platform, offered as part of the Money Guidance ’Premium’ service, has an annual cost of £50 and offers access to IFDL as well as research, industry updates and news.

Consumers will also have to pay the IFDL platform charge, which is tiered from 30 basis points to 10bps.

The third service, currently under development, is an an online advice model with an approximate fee of £60 an hour.

Money Guidance is jointly owned by advisers Alan Cheetham and Philip Dodd, and is an appointed representative of advice firm Alan Cheetham Asset Management.

Money Guidance managing director Philip Dodd, who was formerly an IFA with Cullen Financial Planning, says the web-based advice service will offer fully regulated advice, and will take on the liability for advice.  

Consumers will complete a questionnaire before receiving remote advice from a chartered financial planner. The firm plans to employ chartered financial planners to give advice through an online calling facility such as Skype.  

Dodd says the cost reduction involved in removing face-to-face advice will allow the firm to offer web-based advice at £60 per hour.

Money Guidance has been granted Community Interest Company Status, which means the firm can only issue a maximum of around a third of its profits in dividends to shareholders. The rest of the profit must be reinvested in the company. CIC registered companies also have to apply for the status and satisfy government that they deliver community benefit.

Dodd says: “Traditional investment initiatives have come to be regarded with suspicion, and so a financial services business involving publicly-earmarked profits and assets should go a long way towards restoring trust.  Our website provides investors with essential financial guidance combined with low-cost execution services.”

Dodd says the Money Guidance site has generated 35,000 hits since launch. He hopes to convert 10 per cent of visitors into paid clients onto the web-based advice or Premium service.

FinaMetrica was unavailable for comment.


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There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Hmm. I’m not sure that the CIC structure has any place in financial services. If this company messes up, I want to be able to sue it, fair and square. What is more, as it’s essentially a limited liability company, then its hard to see it as anything other than a potential liability millstone around the rest of the industry’s neck if it ends up parking a lot of liability on the FSCS. Not really very community spirited.

    CICs are always ltd companies, but really should only be playing in fields with small potential liability. In financial services, one shoddy bit of work can cost people hundreds of thousands of pounds.

    I’d be interested in Mr Dodd’s explanation of how his company will meet such liabilities.

  2. I would like to add that the website quotes (somewhat patronisingly), ” For the uninitiated, this form of company has to be separately approved by the UK CIC Regulator and it’s constitution carries with it a clear assurance of not-for-profit distribution status”.

    Wrong. CIC does not mean not for profit. And in the words of the CIC regulator…”The phrase “not for profit” is frequently used in this area; this is misleading as a CIC, as a comercial organisation, needs to remain solvent.” Chapter 1 of the regulations, for reference.

    Advertising your own so-called social enetrprise company incorrectly is a pretty inauspicious start.

  3. Thanks for your feedback, Bryan.

    For the record, the rationale for Money Guidance adopting a CIC structure represents an attempt to engender public trust by significantly limiting its own ability to benefit from the profits and assets of this business – not to dump its liabilities on the rest of the industry. I am not aware of any FCA concession that differentiates between the liabilities of a CIC and a traditional limited liability company and would not seek to explore this even if one existed.

    By the way, I have run my own F/S businesses for the last thirty years or so through NASDIM, PIA, FSA and FCA and have never created any “millstone around the industry`s neck”. You can be assured that I am not about to start now.

  4. Bryan – I am sorry that you find the word “uninitiated” to be “patronising” and I will therefore give serious thought to its removal if your view comes to be shared. The research we have carried out to date has been among consumers rather than seasoned finance professionals, nearly all of whom had never heard of Community Interest Companies (Uninitiated: “not having gained knowledge or experience of a particular subject or activity”).
    Regarding your research on the CIC Regulator`s site, I commend you for your thoroughness. I suspect that, over time, we may have become influenced by what has become accepted usage and interpretation since the introduction of CICs in 2005 – particularly as there is little prospect of Money Guidance being in a position to make a profit in the next few years following considerable launch expenditure (Accounting Web: “CICs are true not for profit companies”; Wikipaedia: “..with a clear assurance of not for profit status”, etc. etc.). Your quote from the CIC Regulator is valid, although not wholly complete, as it is also stated that the phrase not for profit: “should only be used in the context of the company not having as its primary purpose the generation of profits for private investors.” That is the case with Money Guidance (we would certainly have not elected for an asset lock for this business if the objective were to seek commercial advantage).
    Unfortunately, your last paragraph is less constructive, but hope nonetheless that our inauspicious beginnings will in time manage to overcome your cynicism about this particular approach.

  5. 3rd of January and the internal squabbling has started. Innovation amongst peers should be encouraged as if nothing else it forces everyone else to step out of stagnation.

    Whether it works or not, whether it is actually unique in any way or not, I don’t really care other than to say good luck.

  6. Thanks Bert – a measured response.

  7. Philip’s idea was one that I had thought of sometime ago. The difference is he is doing and I hadn’t got past the thinking stage 🙂 Well done.

    The other thing I was thinking pre RDR (but that threw my timings out) was allowing clients to pay for admin and/or advice using the letslink payment system. This could work particularly well for the admin element of the work a firm does

    Good luck Philip Dodd.

  8. Thanks Philip – I appreciate the words of encouragement (and the “letslink” tip!)
    Phil Dodd

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