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Dear Pat: Getting ready for the RDR

With the RDR almost upon us, advisers need to be confident they can deliver a compliant service to their clients whilst incorporating the new rules.

There are some that can sit back, relax and enjoy the mince pie and glass of sherry before bed on Christmas Eve. But many in the industry will be rushing to prepare their firm for the start of next year.

Im going to spend a bit of time this month going through a few housekeeping rules which I hope you find useful either as a nudge or as a sense-check.

“It is your business”

No-one prescribes how your business should be run – there are many advisers today offering a wide variety of services to clients.

Some firms are just happy to tick over as they are with no aspirations to expand or build up their client banks. There are those actively looking for a new home whether for a route to succession planning or just to share a burden and those firms who are on the lookout for like-minded adviser businesses building a future brand and market presence through acquisition. No matter which camp you fall into, it is important to remember there is no right and wrong answer as long as each decision you make echoes your business principles.

“They are your clients”

We are constantly hearing industry types telling us how we should segment our clients. Gold, silver and bronze?

Not all advisers do have different service levels, lots of advisers tell me they treat everyone the same.

Things become a little greyer the bigger the firm. Broadly, the bigger the firm the more likely they are to have naturally segmented clients.

When thinking about your service – it is likely that each client grouping is likely to want/expect very different levels of service from you? Is it service you are probably already giving?

When thinking about platforms as a mechanism for delivering your service, the criteria for selecting platforms is obviously dependent on your client segments.

“Platform Selection & Due Diligence”

Based on the housekeeping rules above – picking platforms isn’t so daunting. Just remember your business needs and ultimately what do you need a platform to provide to deliver the required service to your clients. For example “do I want deep integration with my back office?”, “do I want access to ETFs and wide-ranging funds and tax wrappers?”, “do I rely on platform tools for research and asset allocation?”, “what is the service like – what happens if something goes wrong?”.

Although there are 30 odd platform providers out there, they won’t all tick all your boxes – and remember every adviser firm has different needs. Here are a few tips:

  • Shortlist those likely to meet your needs.
  • Talk price.
  • Think about the platform experience and make sure you have confidence in the proposition.
  • Review and monitor it.

I am only at the end of your fingertips if you do want to sense-check anything so feel free to email me or telephone me: pat@theplatforum.com or 0207 970 4164.

DFM Pat

For some time now, The Platforum have been surveying the increasingly interdependent relationship between adviser firms and outsourcing partners, especially Discretionary Fund Managers. Over the last year, platforms have acted as facilitators for outsourcing, providing access to tools and other services for advisers to link with DFMs, model portfolios and multi-manager solutions.

There is a level of confusion in the market. Here are some common questions we have been hearing:

  • Exactly what services do advisers receive when outsourcing to DFMs?
  • What restrictions (if any) does a platform place on a DFM looking to run portfolios on platforms?
  • Can there be such a thing as ‘bespoke’ discretionary management when a platform is involved or are they just running models?
  • Who owns the client when a DFM is running an adviser’s client on a platform?

Meet my sister – DFM PAT she is intended to be a source of information to demystify some of these questions. It is a starting point for advisers looking to understand this market trend. The Platforum has teamed Albemarle Street Partners and we will shortly be adding some performance data on these groups, so make sure you check-in regularly.

We would really appreciate your feedback on this new extension to the family – it is certainly not the be all and end all of DFM selection but it will save you a whole heap of time just reviewing some facts and figures.

Until next time I’m off to celebrate Christmas – glad-rags, glitter, heels and of course my red lippy!

Pat

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