By Chris Jones, first published in April 2021

If you lived and worked on an isolated island community, and you were able to source everything you needed from your fellow islanders, retirement would be a relatively simple thing to plan.

You would earn a wage or make a profit doing your thing. You would not only spend your income on your fellow islanders’ goods and services, but you could also invest whatever you had left over in their businesses. When you retired, your share of the profits in those business would be directly correlated to the cost of the goods and services, and everyone is happy.

You could, of course, lend money to these businesses instead but there would be no certainty that the fixed capital repayment or interest would be correlated to the cost of goods in the future. This inflation risk is why asset-backed and equity in particular are so good for retirement planning. We may not have felt it recently, but inflation does creep up on you over time.

In either case there are other risks: the business might go bust, the owner may not honour the agreement and so forth. These are things that apply to both the loan and the equity.

I am imagining my theoretical example set in the 18th or 19th century: a blacksmith, baker, farmer, publican, tailor, doctor etc. Since then, advancements in transportation, industrialisation, and communications have led to globalisation which brings improvements and challenges to this premise.

Reducing risk through diversification

Over the last generation, people have been able to invest in Mitsubishi, Nestle, Total, Tesco, BP, Diageo, M&S, GSK etc. Clearly being able to do this reduces risk through diversification and a fair and efficient market. It does introduce additional market and currency risks, but nonetheless people can easily invest in the companies that supply them and this is sensible and encouraging. I understand that the reason funds tend to show top 10 holdings is mainly because investors feel reassured by this.

If globalisation impinges on our remote island scenario, had you invested in your local small business supplier, would it have been acquired and integrated into a global company, or would it have just gone? Whilst investing in equities for long term future retirement needs is compelling, the question of which share is important.

At Dynamic Planner when we use phrases like U.K. Large Cap Equity or Short-term Bonds it has a very specific meaning. For these examples, it is the MSCI UK Equity Large Cap Total Return Index and ICE BofA 1-5 Year Sterling Corporate Index. Individual funds or stocks and shares vary from that both in performance and in risk characteristics, as we can all easily observe. We of course calculate and measure this variance and use it when we risk profile funds at a holdings level.

Expected real returns

Whilst indices are great for consistency of term and qualitative analysis, their components are very fluid and they are totally ex-post (or after the event) in nature. When a share grows, it enters or forms a larger part of that index; that doesn’t mean that it will stay there or remain at that proportion of the index.

Our service provides ex-ante, expected real returns; volatility, correlations and covariances as well as a Monte-Carlo stochastic forecaster. What we cannot do is tell you what stock will make up an index in 30 years’ time. If we could, I would be living on my own private island right now. When you think about asset manager charges, caps and their value, it’s worth reflecting on how difficult yet worthwhile it is for them to try to do this on your behalf.

Whose labour, goods and services will be needed when you retire?

The companies that make up local indices and the countries that represent a global index change quite dramatically. At the end of the 19th century commodities and the UK were dominant.

By 1967 the largest companies in the US were GM, Exon, Ford, GE, Mobil, Chrysler, US Steel and Texaco -almost all car related. At the same time, the UK was busy devaluing its currency and voting not to allow women into the London Stock Exchange. Back then half of UK shares were directly owned by individuals, so in many ways the market was closer to my imagined island scenario than the globalised fund-led market of the 21st century.

Change in relative stock market size from 1899 to 2021.

Things change. Would anybody like to be living off Kodak, Blockbuster or even Tie Rack shares today?

Whilst the basic principle of exchanging your labour for capital whilst you work, and then exchanging your stored capital for labour when you can’t, has been consistent and remains valid today, when it comes to choosing where to store your capital the fundamental question remains: whose labour, goods and services will be needed when you retire?

There has been a lot written about ESG and sustainability. Everyone has an opinion and many people have suddenly become experts. I am certainly not an expert and I won’t add my opinions to the pile.

It does, however, appear sensible to invest in companies that will still be around in the future, and it might be that use of the word ‘sustainability’ is all you need to prompt you to consider ESG information and your client’s preferences. A psychometric sustainability questionnaire and objective MSCI ESG data is available in our system.

Not yet a Dynamic Planner user? Schedule a free no-obligation demo with a business consultant and experience the full functionality of Dynamic Planner.

Dynamic Planner, today announces the appointment of Christophe Ponette as Managing Director for Europe to lead the company’s EU expansion. Christophe was previously the MD of Avaloq, the European Banking and Wealth Technology Provider for Benelux, speaks multiple languages and has over 25 years’ experience working in sales and management positions in European markets including The Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Belgium.

His appointment follows an extensive, two-year exploratory process which has looked intensively at the needs of European financial services firms, asset managers and clients as a result of MiFIDII, IDD and the growth in risk-based investing.

Christophe will work in collaboration with Simon Colboc who has joined Dynamic Planner in a non-executive capacity. Simon has 25 years’ experience in Financial Services, including executive positions at Fortis, BNP Paribas and Prudential Plc. He heads up FECIF’s work on pan-European pensions and runs the Financial Services Practice of Paris-based firm CMI Strategies.

Dynamic Planner has signed an agreement with The European Federation of Financial Advisers and Financial Intermediaries (FECIF) an independent and non-profit-making organisation exclusively at the service of its financial adviser and intermediary members, who are from the 27 EU countries plus the UK and Switzerland; it is the only European body representing European financial advisers and intermediaries. FECIF is based in Brussels, at the heart of Europe and will be working with Dynamic Planner to identify and introduce potential partners.

Dynamic Planner has already completed the localisation of its risk and sustainability profiling instruments for France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Belgium working with in-country experts and financial advisers to ensure they adapt to local requirements. Dynamic Planner will localise its full functionality including: reviews, goal based cash flow planning and suitability reporting to provide its one financial planning system to European clients.

Ben Goss, CEO, Dynamic Planner said: “Backed by almost two decades of experience of Dynamic Planner in the UK, we are now taking our leading financial planning system to the Continent. Europe is in the foothills of an enormous shift in the way that advisers help households manage their finances and prepare for retirement in terms of the investment risk they need to take and the regulation that they face. The market feedback we have had is that we can help financial services firms successfully meet these challenges as we do in the UK.

“This is a natural progression for Dynamic Planner and an incredibly exciting time for us as both a team and a business. We have already learnt a great deal from our engagements with European partners, advisers and experts about how financial advice is given in different countries, for example in the area of sustainability, and much of this will be beneficial for our overall product for our UK clients too.

“Our mission is to help firms match people to suitable portfolios through engaging financial planning and we believe there is a huge opportunity to contribute the expertise and one financial planning system technology we offer in the EU.”

As part of the exploratory process, Dynamic Planner’s Head of Psychology and Behavioural Insights Dr Louis Williams, conducted a large-scale country specific and analysis study of a cross section of the populations in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Spain to understand attitude to risk (ATR) and views on sustainability to assist in the creation of bespoke psychometric questionnaires for each territory. Local financial advisers reviewed translations and provided their views on the question set and framework.

Key differences between the five European countries and UK population include:

ATR Profiling:


Christophe Ponette, Managing Director, Europe, Dynamic Planner said: “We have undertaken extensive country specific research to enable us to understand what is needed and begin to adapt what we offer to each market. This has already informed the design of a range of country specific, multi-language risk profiling and sustainability questionnaires. This insight has also highlighted a need for more education around financial risk and this is central to what we do at Dynamic Planner.

“Large organisations in Europe face many challenges – ageing populations; low savings rates and clients with assets held across different institutions. Above all there is a need to create a culture of investment, improving the overall customer experience and establishing a better and more efficient integration of the financial planning process. We believe Dynamic Planner can provide the answer to these challenges.”

To find out more about how Dynamic Planner can help organisations in Europe, please see our Corporate Brochure and our Guide to Client Profiling in Europe, both available here

Advisers looking for risk rated investing solutions for their clients, can benefit from the revamped RSMR Responsible Managed Portfolio Service (MPS) now available through Dynamic Planner.

The newly launched RSMR Responsible Growth Portfolio means that advisers can now take advantage of four risk profiled portfolios in the RSMR Responsible MPS that is risk rated on Dynamic Planner: Responsible Cautious, Responsible Balanced, Responsible Growth and Responsible Dynamic. This new range of portfolios joins the RSMR Rfolios range of eight funds which has now been added to Dynamic Planner, having been launched in 2015.

RSMR Head of Managed Portfolio Services, Stewart Smith, said:We have taken the opportunity to broaden our offering in the responsible investing area through the launch of the Responsible Growth Portfolio. Alongside our well-established RSMR Rfolios range, we offer advisers four RSMR Responsible portfolios, risk profiled by Dynamic Planner within risk levels 4, 5, 6 and 7.”

Yasmina Siadatan, Sales & Marketing Director, Dynamic Planner said: “We are passionate about broadening out the range of risk rated funds with a focus on responsible investing to give advisers even greater choice within this area for their clients. We welcome the MPS Range from RSMR to Dynamic Planner. Continuing to expand the risk rated responsible fund universe in Dynamic Planner enables advisers to give clients increased opportunity to use their investments to deliver financial returns for the risk they are willing and able to take, alongside ensuring sustainability preferences are matched.”

What is RSMR’s approach to ESG?

Like all of us, we are deeply disturbed by what is happening in Ukraine. While it may not be equal to that, we fully understand your clients will have concerns right now.

We want to provide you with reassurance and information below regarding our model and processes, which you can share when speaking with your clients about their investments. If you have further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Dynamic Planner Client Success team in the usual way.

Capital Market Assumptions and benchmark asset allocations

Dynamic Planner provides forward-looking, ex-Ante assumptions for real returns, volatility, correlations and covariances, and associated calculations such as 95% VaR. They are calculated objectively through proven, statistical models using many decades of data – and rigidly reviewed, monitored and governed to ensure discipline and objectivity.

In Dynamic Planner, you can accurately risk profile any combination of assets. So, however you choose to position yourself tactically, over or underweight to our benchmark, you can understand the risk and expected return.

At times like this, there will no doubt be assets, countries and companies that will do better or worse. This could also change quite quickly. Ultimately, in the medium to long-term, this will mean a change to the constituents and weighting or ranking of the indices that define the assets within our Capital Market Assumptions.

If you want your firm’s or your clients’ investments to react to these changes, then you would need to rely upon a professional fund manager to do that effectively on your behalf. We would therefore, as we always do, encourage the use of the appropriate Risk Target Managed [RTM], Risk Managed Decumulation [RMD] and Risk Profiled solutions in Dynamic Planner.

Risk characteristics within Risk Profiled solutions

Dynamic Planner is unique in the way that it calculates the risk profile of solutions, especially RTM and RMD. We insist that asset managers provide us with the underlying holdings and their weights throughout the review period, including specific stock and derivatives. We calculate the solution’s risk profile using the correlations and covariances of all those underlying instruments.

We hold a database of more than 40,000 instruments and continually review their risk characteristics relative to 72 asset class indices, considering a wide range of potential factors, depending on the nature of the instrument. Dynamic Planner’s Asset Risk team have been considering these risk factors and how they may change the risk factors of certain instruments in light of the crisis in Ukraine, sanctions and market closures.

The Solutions Risk team are using these live risk factors of the underlying instruments within any solution to calculate its risk profile, as well as engaging with asset managers as to whether and how they may be reacting within their mandate to meet a solution’s objectives.

MSCI ESG ratings

We have always known that this is an emotive, complex and evolving issue that we do not have the in-house expertise or resource to fully understand or monitor at an investment instrument level. We rely upon ESG research from MSCI, respected pioneers in this space. Currently, we only make the MSCI ESG fund reports available to Dynamic Planner users, but we do have the full MSCI stock holdings level data available to us.

We have engaged with MSCI and they have said that, owing to the unprecedented nature of the current crisis, and the severe economic pressures facing Russian listed companies, they have implemented a series of ESG ratings downgrades with immediate effect. MSCI will continue to assess these companies’ ratings on an ongoing basis.

They have applied an ESG ratings ceiling of ‘B’ for all Russian companies within their coverage. Companies that were already ‘B’ or ‘CCC’, retain that rating, but all others have been downgraded to this ‘Laggard’ status.

Within MSCI’s corporate governance methodology, Russian companies will see the application of a ‘Very severe’ assessment on the ‘Other high impact governance events’ key metric. Additionally, Russian state-owned enterprises will see the application of a ‘Severe’ flag on the ‘Financing difficulties’ key metric, owing to their additional risk and exposure to sanctions, export restrictions, and removal of access to international financing channels.

MSCI have also downgraded the ESG government rating for Russia from BBB to B (equivalent to ‘Laggard’ status).

At a multi-asset fund solution level, which are very diversified by nature, it is unlikely that such actions of Russian companies or state will have turned the dial on their overall MSCI ratings yet. However, for those relying upon Dynamic Planner and MSCI data, recent actions are being proactively picked up within the assessment of their ESG risks.

If you have any further concerns about market conditions and your customers, please get in touch with the Client Success team.

Dynamic Planner has launched Client Access, a customer focused and interactive technology designed to help advisers drive deeper client engagement and relationships in the new flexible hybrid world of financial advice.

Now available to Dynamic Planner users, Dynamic Planner Client Access empowers clients to complete the psychometric risk and sustainability profiling questionnaires remotely, enriching the process of data capture. Fully interactive, clients benefit from simple language and short videos to clearly communicate key messages and guide them at every step. It is mobile friendly with screens optimised for all devices, with the look and feel fully configurable to a firm’s branding.

Yasmina Siadatan, Sales & Marketing Director at Dynamic Planner said: “While remote advice is here to stay, it can be a challenge for advisers to make the process engaging and easy to understand for clients, as well as build deep relationships which ultimately result in better outcomes. Dynamic Planner Client Access gives advisers that fundamental piece of the hybrid advice puzzle, whilst enhancing their whole experience in an interactive and efficient way.

“We believe it will be fundamental in supporting hybrid advice as demand grows even more, with the ability for advice firms to engage successfully on a remote basis with clients a major step along this path. Advisers will be able to improve outcomes through better informed conversations with clients, whilst at a business level, the increased efficiency of the process will enable firms to increase capacity in their business.”

Advisers can choose which questionnaires clients receive, and once captured, the information flows seamlessly back into Dynamic Planner to support the profiling, cash flow and review processes. With automatic notification that the process is complete, and any inconsistencies in answers flagged, Dynamic Planner Client Access increases the efficiency of advice firms and enables them to focus on more important things such as having good conversations with clients.

Client Access is available now in Dynamic Planner; see for yourself

Dynamic Planner is today trusted by thousands of UK financial advisers, helping them engagingly match their clients with suitable investment portfolios. The award-winning software is constantly evolving to reflect latest regulation and how businesses in the profession work.

What is it like helping make that happen, as members of Dynamic Planner’s growing Product, Development and Test teams? What is a typical day like? What is the culture like? What do people like about working at Dynamic Planner? To give you some insight and to help mark International Women’s Day 2022 [Tuesday 8 March], three team members share their experience.

Claire, Senior Product Owner

When did you join Dynamic Planner?

November 2019.

Describe a typical day for you.

In the morning, I usually enjoy a quieter hour of focus before more people start to come online and meetings begin. A typical day could involve a design meeting with other members of the Product team; research calls with existing clients; technical meetings with our developers; and stakeholder discussions for various projects. Aside from meetings, I can often be found creating prototype wireframes, working through analysis, and documenting designs by writing user stories and flow charts, for example. I also regularly help our Client Success team with any product queries they have.

What do you like about working at Dynamic Planner?

I never feel like I am a number on a spreadsheet. Instead, I feel like a valued member of the team. I love being able to work flexibly, insofar as I start my working day at 8am. I’m a morning person and this really suits me. Whilst we all work remotely the majority of the time, I like the way we are kept connected and updated with regular company meetings. And it’s also always fun to anticipate what each month’s payday treat will be!

Nethra, Senior Software Developer

When did you join Dynamic Planner?

April 2020.

Describe a typical day for you.

My day starts with a meeting with my team, discussing what was done the previous day and the pending tasks. Then, the whole day is spent on coding and technical discussions, alongside occasional scrum meetings.

What do you like about working at Dynamic Planner?

Dynamic Planner is a place that continually demands excellence, while still allowing you to experience a healthy and positive work environment.

Tara, Senior Test Analyst

When did you join Dynamic Planner?

September 2020.

Describe a typical day for you.

As a QA Tester, I start my day off checking my messages, reviewing test runs and checking anything urgent that needs dealing with from a quality perspective. After catching up with the team, I’ll usually start working on testing tickets and working with the Developers and Product Owners / Managers to make sure we are all on the same page with what needs to be delivered. Then, I work on designing and creating solid automation, reviewing code and generally working with the QA and wider teams as needed. Each day is different.

What do you like about working at Dynamic Planner?

I like the flexible working and the team dynamics. With flexible working, I can choose to go into the office or work remotely. Also, I’m able to work around my life more than in previous jobs. If I need a slightly longer lunch one day, I’m not chained to my desk. It’s just about being respectful to your team and not taking advantage. In terms of team dynamics, I always feel free to express myself with ideas or suggestions. Everyone is friendly and approachable.

Visit our careers page to view our latest vacancies

The team at Dynamic Planner have grown rapidly during Covid, meaning many members began roles in varying levels of lockdown in the UK. However, the award-winning firm’s commitment to remote and hybrid working has helped new starters hit the ground running in the field of financial planning technology.

Thomas Pegg’s
dream of being a commercial pilot was thwarted by a medical condition. But software testing appealed to his love for the technical side of flying. He retrained and took a role as a test analyst for a political party before joining Dynamic Planner in July 2021.

How has the transition been from your old role to new?

I think I’ve had a steeper learning curve than some of my colleagues, in that I was in politics for seven years and financial technology, or fintech, is a completely new world for me. The biggest challenge has been understanding the business, how it operates. But I was given lots of time and support, and it wasn’t long before I was getting stuck in.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I do some manual testing, but most of the day is spent writing automation. That was one of the key things I was looking for from a new role – the opportunity to develop my test automation skills. It’s important because it’s helping safeguard the quality of the product. When there are software updates, we know that the core features are always going to be robust, because we have that automation in place.

Working in tech wasn’t your original career plan. How do you feel about it now?

The possibilities of what you can do with tech are endless – from the strides forward in AI to new uses in the medical profession. Fintech is an industry that’s great if you want to be challenged and stretched, and the career paths can be very rewarding. It’s exciting to be able to contribute to advances happening.

Visit our careers page to view our latest vacancies

The team at Dynamic Planner have grown rapidly during Covid, meaning many members began roles in varying levels of lockdown in the UK. However, the award-winning firm’s commitment to remote and hybrid working has helped new starters hit the ground running in the field of financial planning technology.

Max Bowser began his career in financial services as a paraplanner, who taught himself programming in his spare time. When the principal financial adviser at his firm retired and sold up, he decided to make it a full-time profession. After a year of freelancing, he joined Dynamic Planner in February 2021.

Were you thinking about a move into financial technology when you started learning programming?

Not really. I was making games and I’d made a few apps and other tools. I realised I could apply what I’d learnt to my job, so over time I became more of a software developer who happened to be a former paraplanner. Then, when I was freelancing, I saw a job posting for Dynamic Planner. It looked like a good opportunity: being paid to do programming, which I really enjoy, without wasting my knowledge about financial advice.

You joined Dynamic Planner during a lockdown. What was that like?

I’d say it was a unique experience, except it’s one that lots of people have been through now. There’s obviously the challenge of not being in an office, not being able to wander over and chat with anyone, either socially or to ask questions. But everyone’s good at being available online, and there’s a lot of effort to bring people together remotely. From the tech side of things, the hardware is really good, which helped with getting up to speed.

What does your role involve?

I’ve ended up being the custodian of a new project to manage all our product data. When I joined, I began helping with the project, which had just started, and over a few weeks I was taking on more and more of the work. That freed up the developer who had been working on it to take on something else, and the project was handed over to me. It’s a nice thing about the company: it’s the right size that there’s plenty of interesting stuff going on, but it’s also small enough that you can take ownership of things.

Visit our careers page to view our latest vacancies

The team at Dynamic Planner have grown rapidly during Covid, meaning many members began roles in varying levels of lockdown in the UK. However, the award-winning firm’s commitment to remote and hybrid working has helped new starters hit the ground running in the field of financial planning technology.

Amanda Thorpe is currently Product Owner for parts of Dynamic Planner, which deal with annual reviews and recommendations for retail investors. She joined in May 2021, having previously worked as a chartered tax adviser and then as a product owner for a tax return software company.

What was it like starting a new job during the pandemic?

It’s actually not been that weird. It’s a nice place to work, very friendly. There’s a good programme here in the first few weeks, with sessions with representatives from different departments who talk you through what they do, which helped with understanding the business. My first day, I was lucky enough to go into the office for a meeting. Then, when the restrictions allowed, a few of us started going into the office on Thursdays, just because it’s good to do some things in person.

How long did it take you to feel confident in your new role?

At first it felt like there was a lot to learn, but I focused on how I was changing and progressing month to month. By the end of month three I felt that I could have conversations with our clients in which I really knew what I was talking about. This company is very, very good at getting feedback from customers, so there’s a lot of client interaction in my role, which is really useful for what we’re trying to achieve.

What do you think might attract other people to Dynamic Planner?

Probably the fact that the company is growing and everyone is feeding into it. Even in the six months I’ve been here, we’ve gone through changes where we’re trying to figure out what processes work best, what improvements we can make, how we can get the most out of what we’re doing. There’s an opportunity to really shape where the company is going.

Visit our careers page to view our latest vacancies

“We are on the cusp of a Golden Age for the financial planning industry, with a mixture of demand, regulation and technology providing the backdrop against which financial advice and planning is made more accessible than ever before,” says Ben Goss, CEO Dynamic Planner.

Speaking at Dynamic Planner’s 10th Annual Conference, Ben Goss continued: “More than four million people took financial advice in 2020, growing rapidly year-on-year as people considered their priorities as well as their portfolios during the pandemic.

“The Regulator and the Treasury both want to see more people accessing the financial advice they need to make long term investment decisions, and combined with the huge adoption of Internet and video communication over the last two years, advice firms with the right systems now have an unprecedented opportunity.

“They can now open up capacity to the benefit of their clients, the benefit of their business and, in removing much of the manual work associated with financial planning, make their working lives more fulfilling.

“However, challenges remain: regulation continues to evolve, this year with Consumer Duty, fragmented systems all too often cause wasted energy and increased risk of error and advisers need to find new ways to demonstrate their value when they are not in the room with the client. How can firms do this?

“Three years ago, Dynamic Planner embarked on a multi-million-pound upgrade to deliver the one financial planning system firms need in a hybrid world. We have since launched a range of new developments from sustainability profiling to risk-based cash flow planning.

“We are grateful for the contributions from hundreds of firms across our client base, at every stage of the design and development process, ensuring that Dynamic Planner is a system built with financial planners for financial planners.

“Today and over the coming weeks and months, we are launching a range of new innovations to deliver on our one system vision and ensure that firms thrive in the hybrid world.”

New innovations from Dynamic Planner include:

Want to see what Dynamic Planner can do for you? Schedule a free, no-obligation demo and experience the full functionality of Dynamic Planner.