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Striking a match

We take treating customers fairly very seriously and two years ago we realised that we had to change the way we operate.

Let’s be honest, how can the vast majority of IFAs think they have the resources to determine asset allo-cation models and under-lying fund security selection? How many employ a team of economists and fund managers?

Historically you could give the same client to several IFAs and they would all come up with a different asset allocation model and different funds. Once those had been selected, how could they possibly actively manage them? Very few firms have discretionary management powers.

After reviewing our strategic business model, we came to the conclusion that we are holistic financial planners, not fund managers. We needed a way of actively managing our clients’ investments in a consistent manner whether they had 7,000 or 700,000.

Initially, after much deliberation, we decided to set up our own Oeic with a range of sub-funds managed by Marlborough Fund Managers to match the risk profiles of our clients. The funds are available through a range of tax wrappers and have been on both the Selestia and Cofunds platforms for over 18 months.

This idea proved extrem-ely popular with the major-ity of our clients whose inv-estment aims are very sim-ple. However, we realised that where clients’ financial affairs are more complicated, a more sophisticated approach was required.

After a lengthy period of due diligence and market research, we decided to team up with Seven Investment Management. Their business ethos closely matches ours and we have been very impressed how easily we have been able to work together as a team.

We even have our own relationship manager who works very closely with us and ensures queries are dealt with quickly and efficiently. We are still experiencing minor teething problems but this is where the relationship manager steps in.

In terms of technology, we have been users of 1st Software and, before that, LSD since 1988 so the need to link into 1st was of great importance to us. The fact that the top IT people at 7IM are prepared to come to our office and assist us hands-on displays their commitment to the partnership and gives added confidence to our administrators.

We have found their wrap charges to be very competitive. They are launching a further range of funds with AMCs as low as 0.5 per cent which will make the proposition even more attractive.

We firmly believe that their investment approach, combined experience and wrap proposition is some-thing we feel our clients can benefit from as part of our overall offering as independent holistic financial planners.

Paul Tuson is director of business development at Financial Management Bureau


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