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Ian McKenna: Latest features make Capita’s Synaptic a compelling proposition

Ian McKenna MM blog 2013

Capita’s Synaptic product range has been significantly expanded. It now offers a compelling proposition to advisers, so this week’s column explores the latest features.

For many years it had a reputation for delivering a wealth of features-based product research. It has evolved recently to include real-time on- and off-platform investment projection capability.

This is now being extended to include further support for advisers during the investment planning process. The product suite now known as Fusion has been extended to include Synaptic Modeller, a toolset to allow an adviser firm to configure its bespoke investment strategy.

At outset, Fusion can include the ability for the adviser to build their client proposition, that is, to design and agree the level of services that are to be delivered to the customer.

This can include multiple scenarios, each with a different description and adviser-charging level. As each recommendation report is delivered, it can then record such activity providing an audit trail of the service being delivered.

This enables the firm to choose which attitude to risk question and answer sets it wants to use, the asset class definitions, strategic asset allocations in model portfolios and any fund or portfolios it wishes to include within its recommendation.

The default version of the product includes the Barrie & Hibbert attitude to risk solution.

As one would expect, the system can produce different risk profiles for different goals. The adviser can then use the portfolio wizard to select a mathematically optimised portfolio from the funds the adviser has selected.

This is not just restricted to financial instruments but can include esoteric assets such as holiday homes, collections of valuables or other illiquid assets. In addition, the software has the ability to show the percentage possibility of making a gain or loss over any timeframe.

The tools can also show any number of “what if” scenarios via graphs to show the effects of increasing/decreasing risk or whatever other parameters the user wants.

Another powerful feature within Modeller is the ability of the system, when comparing on- and off-platform products, to identify exactly which funds and classes of funds are available via different products or platforms.

This should be invaluable in a post-RDR market.

Comparator can use the adviser’s client proposition within the calculations and shows charges at a platform, product, fund and adviser level, both individually and combined (it also shows these on an annual basis as well as for the term of the contract).

Also, the systems can compare on- and off-platform products at the same time and even shows when a mixture of on- and off-platform products are more cost-effective.

This calculates the overall cash value of the adviser charges over the lifetime of the investment highlighting best value to the client and greatest value to the adviser.

As part of the regular client review process, Fusion includes an electronic mess-aging platform which can use online services like Contract Enquiry and other bulk valua-tion services to update the value of a client’s holdings before conducting a periodic review. This has the potential to significantly reduce the time taken in such exercises compared with obtaining this information manually.

Bellpenny, the Reading based IFA acquirer and wealth management company run by former Intrinsic CEO Kevin Ronaldson, has been an early adopter of the Synaptic Fusion suite. With five acquisitions already, the firm has nearly £500m under management with more deals in the pipeline.

While a staunch supporter of face-to-face advice, Ronaldson sees technology as a crucial enabler to help ensure advisers are compliant, competent and consistent. He recognises one of the major historic challenges has been ensuring that funds actually deliver what investors are seeking and cites historic examples where so called cautious funds have had a 60 per cent equity component.

Ronaldson says: “This software enables us to make sure we are delivering funds and portfolios that seamlessly match what the client wants in terms of their appetite for risk and risk profile.”

The business is supplying the Fusion package to all its advisers and paraplanners and use of the software is mandated as part of the businesses core processes.

Overall, the Synaptic Fusion suite provides an invaluable software solution for advisers to manage both their obligations under assessing suitability and a range of compliance processes within their business.

If there is one element that in my mind is missing presently, it is that I would like to see Fusion aligned to third- party cashflow modelling tools but there are a number of these in the market and it is probably better that Capita integrate with these rather than look to provide a single in-house solution.

While there are various discounts in the market, as an example, a user taking a 24-month contract would pay £180 per user per month.

Fusion continues to evolve with the next module being Analyser which will assist the adviser in qualitative and quantitate pension transfer analysis and, in time, extend to other investment products.

The final module in the plan is a transaction capability to execute the action agreed although this is not expected to arrive before 2014.

My colleague Adam Higgs has carried out an extended assessment of the Modeller elements of the Fusion suite which can be found here.  

Ian McKenna is director of the Finance & Technology Research Centre


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There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Sorry Ian but you’re the wrong McKenna!

    It would take Paul McKenna’s hypnotic powers for me to ever ever consider buying anything from the company that brought us the Arch Cru ACD and then left IFA’s to pick up the bill.

  2. @Siren – snap

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