There is one adviser at HR Independent which provides clients with general financial planning with a specialism in trusts and offshore investments. Assets under management are approximately £30m and the investment platform we use first and foremost is Old Mutual. We also use Fidelity and, to a much lesser extent, Cofunds now part of Aegon.
We have used Dynamic Planner for many years pre-RDR and now today it is an essential part of the investment proposition we offer. Let’s say we are completing a review with a client – which is where most of us are earning our money at the moment – and it is face-to-face. Before the meeting, they will receive a link to Dynamic Planner to complete the questionnaire. We will complete an analysis of their portfolio and where it currently sits on the risk profile scale and the efficient frontier in comparison to where they want to be now. We then have a meeting to discuss that.
At that point we can ask the client lots of questions about what they want – do they want to use risk profiled or risk-targeted funds? And what shade of active or passive fund management do they want? We then go back to the client – and what we’re finding when we’re doing client reviews now more and more is that people are saying, ‘I’ve been through the questionnaire now and it would be intellectually inconsistent of me to now say I want anything other than a risk-targeted fund’. Clients like Risk Target Managed (RTM) funds because having determined that someone is, for example, a Risk Profile 7, they know that’s what they’ll get with RTM. If and when markets at some point then enter a downturn, clients know that they hold investments at the risk level they signed up for.
We write to the client detailing their present circumstances, their fee charges and detailing the funds we are now proposing and the rationale behind that. That process works well for us. The FCA, as we all know, is looking carefully at ongoing services for clients. In-house, we always have the debate around client review time, ‘If the FCA walked in the door today and asked us what we are offering clients for our ongoing charges’, we would be absolutely confident that what Dynamic Planner helps us deliver is robust, deliverable and consistent.
We spent a great deal of time and energy here at HR Independent creating a suitable process we could hold up to clients and say, ‘This is what we do and this is what you pay for’. Dynamic Planner plays an integral part in that process and when we were first looking at the design and make-up of that process Dynamic Planner came out ahead of other services, because of the combination of things it offers: the questionnaires and the reports it generates most prominently. We can say to clients, ‘Here is where you are currently invested. Here is where you have just said you want to be. In order to get there, this is what you need to do’.
We can match investments to clients using Premium and Select funds in Dynamic Planner, which puts us fairly and squarely where we want to be and allows you as an adviser to just follow that process, all the way through Dynamic Planner. It is in that capacity that anybody looking at it, perhaps without any prior knowledge whatsoever of financial planning, can say, ‘Yes, I’ve seen what you’ve done there. I can see where I currently am. I can see where I relate to risk and to reward. And I can see what I now need to do to achieve my goals’.
We are a single office firm – we’re not part of a chain – with two advisers and two admin staff. We are totally independent and we predominantly sell investments for life pensions.
We first started using Dynamic Planner two years ago, because as a firm we could clearly see from seminars and events we attend throughout the year that everybody else in the sector trusts and uses it. People always refer to Dynamic Planner and particularly the big investment houses – they subscribe to it and describe how their funds sit within Dynamic Planner’s risk profile scale.
When people within the industry ask us, ‘What risk profiler do you use?’ They instantly understand when we say, ‘Dynamic Planner’. You are all then singing from the same hymn sheet in that sense and people like Bankhall, who we are part of, know you are using a reputable company in Dynamic Planner.
Because it is recognised so widely within the industry, we know at Chase Buckingham that by using Dynamic Planner’s attitude to risk questionnaire we are asking all the right questions; we know we are not missing anything, and we know that a client’s capacity for loss is covered within it as well. We definitely would recommend it to a fellow IFA, because, like I said, it is so widely recognised.
Our investment process begins with Dynamic Planner’s attitude to risk questionnaire. Once we have established a client’s risk category, we create an asset split and then start selecting funds for the recommendation we make. We are quite traditional in the sense that we select funds from our own research.
Dynamic Planner is a really good system and constantly evolving and is something that could make our jobs a lot easier in the future. When we were introducing Dynamic Planner to our investment process, we always knew there would be someone available to talk through the issues and provide the support we wanted.
AV Trinity is a well-established company in Kent which has been trading for 20 years. We have 25 staff in all, which include nine advisers and three paraplanners, and the size of our assets under advice is approximately £360m. We offer clients holistic financial planning advice across all age groups.
AV Trinity offers a central investment proposition and a central retirement proposition to customers. Depending on the client segment, we recommend discretionary fund managers or risk targeted, multi-asset funds. For retirement planning, we typically recommend personal pensions.
Dynamic Planner enables us to ensure suitability in a number of ways. What we particularly like about it is the ability to clearly demonstrate to a client the impact in stochastic modelling terms of either down-risking or up-risking their investment portfolio. That process can be very powerful, because clients clearly see the impact of decisions they are considering. Dynamic Planner also allows us to clearly report a client’s capacity for loss and document their investor experience conveniently in one document.
The time savings Dynamic Planner offer are manifest in the client invites to complete the attitude to risk questionnaire before an initial meeting. What is most important is the discussion that follows completing the questionnaire with the client, so, in that sense, the client experience is better.
At AV Trinity, we are chartered financial planners and we are very proud of that fact, so client reports are not only important in terms of ensuring suitability and compliance with the FCA, but further, in terms of presentation to clients. The reports produced by Dynamic Planner give a very clear demonstration of why a risk profile has been selected, what a client’s capacity for loss is and also detail investor experience.
I don’t think we could envisage our practice today without Dynamic Planner. The outcomes, from a client perspective, are just what we are looking for in the current climate and also, from another perspective, we can have confidence that we can demonstrate to the FCA our clients’ investment suitability. I would certainly recommend Dynamic Planner to a fellow adviser.
Barwells Wealth has two financial advisers and approximately £110m in assets under management. We are a private client firm, offering advice on pensions and investments. We use three investment platforms – FundsNetwork, Nucleus and AJ Bell.
We first started using Dynamic Planner in 2014. The firm went through a due diligence process, looking at the functionality and usability of the different offerings. We concluded that Dynamic Planner was the easiest to use and, most importantly, the most intuitive, because we would be using it in front of the client. At Barwells, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other firms and advisers. It’s a very good piece of kit.
Dynamic Planner plays an integral part in our first meeting with clients. The iPad app is great. We typically use it with a client interactively. We like the way you can produce an outcome in real-time and then prompt questions around that outcome. You can then show the client the different risk profiles and different asset allocations, which is a great way of starting a discussion.
Equally, if a client comes across to us from another firm with existing investments you can compare the risk profile of their current portfolio against the risk profile of what investments you are proposing. Dynamic Planner is used in our back office as well in that scenario for product recommendations.
In the past when it came to client risk profiling, there was always a danger that the adviser very much led that conversation. An adviser might have made a snap decision that a client was cautious or that a client was adventurous, for example, and subsequently steered them down that particular path. Having a modelling process like Dynamic Planner really allows the client to drive decision-making much more.
It allows you to frame your advice to clients in ways that they can understand. The 1-10 Risk Profile scale is also easy to understand. There can be a danger that clients naturally head to the middle of the risk scale, but by allowing Dynamic Planner to encourage engagement with the client in a discussion, the client can take and feel some ownership of the process, rather than us as advisers saying, ‘I think you’re a balanced investor’ and the client replying, ‘What does that actually mean?’
I think it’s important clients are invested emotionally in the process. I have been working in this industry for 18 years and when I started financial advice was still very much a sales job. You were selling a product to somebody – but it has evolved, and it is important that clients today understand the mechanics of what is happening to their money.
In terms of efficiency, Dynamic Planner’s iPad app really helps. It’s a ‘one and done’ job: you get the questionnaire answers; you can produce a report; you can print the report; and the client can walk away with it from a meeting. That’s sped up our process considerably. Ensuring the client leaves with something tangible like a report helps you as an adviser demonstrate value, because they can see what you are doing.
It was a simple, easy process for us to start using Dynamic Planner when we did. We got good support in helping us integrate it with platforms. We were first demonstrated the software over webinars and then completed the buying process by telephone.
We have always had the sense at Barwells that Dynamic Planner is a financial services firm. In this industry, you can get companies which are say asset managers first and platforms second, or vice-versa. They can then, for example, be a great technology company, but not fully understand financial services. With Dynamic Planner, you know that they understand both financial services and technology.
It’s good that, as a user, you receive documents from Dynamic Planner saying that, ‘We are thinking about making these changes. What do you think?’. It’s good to see a technology provider really engaged with the end user – rather than suddenly Dynamic Planner 2.0 is released, everything’s different and you’re sat there thinking, ‘Why did you do that?’
There are two of us who work here at the firm – myself and my hardworking PA, Lucy, who is heavily involved in the firm and training to become a paraplanner. We have both attended two recent Training Academies Dynamic Planner held, which were well presented and really useful. We offer clients advice on investments and pensions planning and, in addition, we provide a cashflow modelling service.
We originally started using Dynamic Planner via our service provider in 2016, before deciding to come to Dynamic Planner direct, because we thought the system and service was very good. It made sense. Dynamic Planner is very simple and easy to use and quite forward-thinking. It is constantly evolving. I am really looking forward to using Dynamic Planner’s new Client Review Report, I saw previewed at an event, when that is launched later this year. That will be fantastic for my firm.
For every existing client’s review, we complete the risk profiling process, which I tend to complete with the client using the app on an iPad. We also complete an asset allocation report to see where their current level of risk is. We will also analyse the client’s current portfolio, to see if it is still suitable for their profile.
For new clients, Dynamic Planner is excellent, particularly during the initial ‘onboarding’ process. We will send them a secure link to complete the risk profiling. The client can then complete that and send it back, so that when you finally meet you can have a discussion around the results and then start talking about what they want to achieve. Intelligent Office is the back office system we use, so we can send all the client fact find over from there to Dynamic Planner. The two systems work well together. Clients receive a Risk Profiling Report and an Asset Allocation Report at the end of the process.
Dynamic Planner is fantastic and the biggest time saving service for me. It saves me a lot of time when you consider how you can get the client to complete the risk profiling prior to a face to face meeting. Also, using the app on an iPad saves on paper – I think there is too much paper used in this industry – and always having to print everything out.
The reports you can produce look very professional and the system helps make our advice process both robust and efficient. I would certainly recommend Dynamic Planner to a fellow adviser – and I do.
There are three CF30 advisers at Mark Dean Wealth Management. Our approximate assets under management are £45million. We offer our clients, of which we currently have 38: no initial charges; only 0.5% ongoing charge; we are independent and directly authorised; and we are members of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and Federation of European Independent Financial Advisers (FEIFA). We use Tenet Select for our compliance support.
We specialise in international financial planning. My immediate background, before I set the firm up in 2010, was Senior International Wealth Manager at HSBC International for five years. Before that, I was at Citibank, part of Citigroup, helping to establish an international financial advisory business for their Citigold clients
Starting out in financial services
I first started out in financial services at Sun Life of Canada. I didn’t choose the industry, being very honest, I kind of fell into it, as I needed a job where I could work my own hours and not be committed to nine-to-five. As time went on, I found my sales figures were consistently good and despite some ups and downs I’ve stuck doing what I know best and here we are 35 years later.
The biggest lesson I have learnt during my time in the industry – I would say, the quicker you can adapt to change, the more successful you will be. If you always look after your clients as if they were your own mother, then longer term your clients will look after you.
‘Dynamic Planner’s been a godsend’
We first began using Dynamic Planner in the summer of 2019 and it’s been a godsend. If I had to use one word to describe why we went with Dynamic Planner it would be ‘control’. It gives us, as a firm, much greater control over asset allocation and fund choice when we build model portfolios. It gives us a great structure to how we work.
We haven’t had the opportunity to do this before, but now using Dynamic Planner we can write a risk profiling report for clients, which is very good quality – and, using Elements and the Client Review, we have prepared annual review reports with bespoke front pages. That helps us demonstrate value as a firm and helps formalise all of our documentation, so everything is white labelled with our firm’s logo, for continuity. Also, that is what our clients trust.
In this day and age, with regulation, I don’t think you can run your business without it.
‘Something to hang your hat on’
We have started putting clients through Dynamic Planner’s Risk Profiling process – and we are also getting all existing clients to complete the questionnaires to update their profiles as well. It works well. Yes, it’s longer than others, but I think it needs to be, in this day and age. I don’t think as a firm you can get away with a straight, one-page risk profile questionnaire today.
Dynamic Planner is good because it assesses also a client’s investor experience and their capacity for loss, so it gives you something to hang your hat on, so to speak, for the regulator.
We love the support you get from the Client Success team at Dynamic Planner – they are great. You can call up; they don’t try and get you off the phone; they login and share the screen; and they stay on the line with you, right until the end to ensure you have resolved your issue. It’s really, really good. For me, this is Dynamic Planner’s biggest selling point.
We were also able – myself and a colleague – to arrange a conference call with Abhi Chatterjee, who heads up the Asset and Risk Modelling team, to explain more about Dynamic Planner’s asset allocation when we had questions.
Would I recommend Dynamic Planner to another firm? Absolutely. In this day and age, with regulation, I don’t think you can run your business without it.
Dynamic Planner is a partner in my business, to all intents and purposes, and plays an integral part in it.
It supports me in having a compliant and repeatable process for risk profiling clients and for selecting where their money is invested, in line with benchmark asset allocations for an agreed level of risk. It removes that burden and allows me to focus on the parts of the planning process where, as an adviser, I can excel.
I like the fact that Dynamic Planner has a team of independent experts who can analyse world markets and decide where each of them are in the investment cycle, and ultimately ensure that the risk and return of the benchmark asset allocation for a risk profile 5 is higher than a 4, but less than a 6, for example. Everything remains in its right place.
You can’t adopt benchmark asset allocations without using a respectively designed risk questionnaire.
They must be tailored together. My job then, you could argue, is the simpler part; carefully researching the investment universe each quarter to find, for example, the best property fund to allocate 5% of my model portfolio to. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.
I first began using Dynamic Planner around 2015, so that I could demonstrate to the regulator that we were independent of investment platforms and that we had a robust, independent risk profiling process in place for clients. Without this independent risk profiling process, a risk questionnaire would have to be used from a specific investment platform and clients may then logically assume that a decision has already been made to use only that platform, when really there are more options open to them.
I explain to clients that Dynamic Planner’s risk questionnaires are designed to make you carefully think about investment risk and reward. There is a science behind how they have been created and they are continually updated to ensure clients understand risk most effectively.
When I first sit with a new client, I ask them for a gut feeling of how risk averse they are. And maybe I joke that this was the process 30 years ago! Then I say, ‘Let’s do this scientifically’ and see what risk profile you come out as, which is the beginning of a deeper conversation.
At all stages, the client is reminded that together we will reach an agreed risk profile for them, and having a repeatable structure and process allows us to measure how that can change over time.
In this light, last March’s market drops due to Covid were painful for a time, but they did, perversely, remind investors about risk and volatility and how a strategic asset allocation can create diversified investment portfolios and help mitigate risk during periods of extreme volatility. This was, and is, important and comforting to clients.
I follow Dynamic Planner’s benchmark asset allocations for each risk profile to the letter and explain to clients the average expected return each year for a risk profile, referencing my firm’s own model portfolios and illustrating potential returns from best performing funds at that risk level.
I have fully adopted Dynamic Planner’s Client Review process and, by wedding it to video meetings using Zoom, it’s changed my life! I have reached out to clients in the past 12 months, asking to complete a review remotely and they have completely engaged with the process.
It’s fantastic that I can have a conversation with a client online, share with them real-time performance data, review their risk profile and complete that part of the process with a comprehensive report.
During the call, we build an email with relevant documents and hit send before ending the meeting. My PA receives it at the same time as the client and can follow up, actioning notes the client has already signed off and complete the final recommendation process.
Would I recommend Dynamic Planner to another firm? Yes, 100%. And I do daily.
What is the biggest challenge you face today as a financial planner?
[Lee] I joined Parkgate two weeks before we went into lockdown in March. Although I have advised in the past, I have spent the last 10 years supporting the development of adviser firms across the UK. Having no clients of my own, I inherited a client bank at Parkgate and completely expected to go and meet each one face-to-face, because, for me, financial services has always been about face-to-face advice. The biggest challenge for me and clients was adapting to the new world.
The first thing I had to do was educate clients to meet on platforms like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. This has also helped many of them connect with family and friends in a way they had never done before. Going back into advice, I’ve been surprised and pleased with the number of recommendations from clients I’ve only met ‘virtually’.
[Gareth] Incredibly, 2020 has been a better year for me in terms of the number of client referrals I have received than I did during 2019. We have helped clients to adapt exceptionally well to the new environment, in terms of meeting digitally, using electronic signatures, online live cash flow planning, risk profiling and reviews. Getting new business out of existing clients has actually been easier and far more efficient than historically.
[Lee] I think one advantage of meeting people on video, is you have a wealth of data and analysis you can share straight away, at the touch of a button, which you wouldn’t have face-to-face, because it’s not as practical.
Using Dynamic Planner as an example, you can share your screen and positioned in the right way, clients can get very involved and the process can be even more engaging in many ways.
Why did you first adopt Dynamic Planner, as a firm?
[Gareth] We began using Dynamic Planner in the summer of 2019. We wanted to strengthen the service clients received to be a completely consistent, end-to-end journey which they could engage in, understand and follow far easier than different pieces of the financial planning jigsaw not being as joined-up. This, aligned to Dynamic Planner’s vision, has led us on to introducing other areas to clients as they have been evolved and released, which clients have continued to engage with and benefit from.
We rebranded as a firm, in March 2020, so this summer we put all of that same imagery – from our website and client brochures – into Dynamic Planner’s Client Review and risk profile reports, so there is consistency for clients across the different touch points they have with us as a business. That functionality in Dynamic Planner is great, allowing you to brand reports exactly as you want them. Using Dynamic Planner’s Client Review tool certainly makes the team we have producing them more efficient.
What are the big benefits, for your firm, of using Dynamic Planner?
[Lee] Accurately ascertaining a client’s attitude to risk is a crucial step in the advice process. Using Dynamic Planner, you can tell as an adviser that the client just gets it, understands it and is happy with the outcome. Being able to get a client’s latest valuation for their portfolio and then be able to show them three scenarios – ‘Plan for this’ but ‘Be prepared for this’ etc. – really brings it home for the client.
[Gareth] To be able to have a review meeting with a client, which has been ‘virtual’ this year, share your screen with them, and then take them through their attitude to risk ‘live’ and then through their annual review report Dynamic Planner builds for you, means clients are completely engaged with the entire review process. The ability to almost go end-to-end for a review within one system and produce one report is great.
Echoing what Lee said about the different scenarios, people this year have naturally been more focused on what would happen if markets downturn and their portfolio falls in value, which we refer to as their capacity for loss. The Dynamic Planner process allows us to personalise this for every client and make it completely relevant to their circumstances.
As the client’s entire portfolio information is stored in the system, the real potential £’s lost is displayed, helping them fully understand their capacity for loss and the risk being taken within their portfolio.
What might life have been like, at your firm, without Dynamic Planner this year?
[Gareth] If we hadn’t had Dynamic Planner in 2020, it would not have been as easy for us to adapt to the impact of the pandemic and continue to deliver a first-class service to our clients. Having an end-to-end Attitude to Risk, flowing through to annual review reporting and now cash flow planning, has enabled us to continue to deliver an interactive, engaging service to our clients in a remote-meeting environment.
Would you recommend Dynamic Planner to a fellow advice firm?
[Both] Yes, definitely.
We first started using Dynamic Planner, because it made a lot of sense, through what it was doing. We knew we could use it to provide an audit trail of work we were doing with clients. We use a variety of providers including the Nucleus Wrap, Prudential and Royal London – and, for example, we often recommend to clients Tatton portfolios, which we can map directly into Dynamic Planner and its risk profiles to ensure their suitability for every client.
That’s also great for the client, because they can see instantly the level of risk they’re taking with current investments and whether they’re comfortable with that. It’s an easy conversation for you to both have.
The risk questionnaires for clients in Dynamic Planner are great and do that job really well. We used a different tool before and it was okay, but it doesn’t give you the depth Dynamic Planner provides. You can email the client a link to complete the questionnaires on their own, before a meeting – and most of the time, clients are very good at completing it. All the answers then are there, waiting for you. That work is done before you speak with the client.
It’s great to have the information on a client’s existing portfolio, all there, so that you can easily show its risk level and if that’s different to a client’s own risk profile. It’s a great way of pointing that out, because sometimes the difference can be quite dramatic. It just makes your job a lot easier.
The Client Review process and report in Dynamic Planner is very good and very extensive. For a typical review for a client, we start with the risk questionnaires, to see if there are any changes to consider. We then put together the report and see if everything’s on track with the portfolio. It’s good from the point of view of providing you with a framework to follow and repeat for a review. Does it save you time? Absolutely. There is an awful lot Dynamic Planner does, which saves you time as a firm.
Dynamic Planner’s Client Success team are excellent – every one of them are a credit to themselves. I’m sure they’re fed up with hearing my voice! They’re very patient and are always on hand to help, sharing their screen and talking you through how to do something. It’s such a bonus of being a Dynamic Planner user – that the Client Success team are so good.
Would I recommend Dynamic Planner to another firm? 100 per cent. It’s fantastic and it’s clearly been designed with the IFA in mind. It’s user friendly; everything about it is good.
We have two financial advisers at the firm – which is directly authorised – working with approximately 200 clients paying ongoing fees. Working with that many clients and this is what Dynamic Planner is all about, you must have a process and CIP in place. Without a partner like Dynamic Planner, we wouldn’t be able to provide that.
Our clients’ attitude to risk is measured in Dynamic Planner and we wouldn’t go anywhere else for ATR, because simplicity is what we’re looking for. We first started using Dynamic Planner more than two years’ ago and we’re fully engaged with it.
For a new client, if a first meeting is successful – when we get a semblance of them and they can get a semblance of us – we ask them to complete Dynamic Planner’s risk and sustainability questionnaires, and a fact find, so we have the full picture.
Then, we begin a dialogue and Dynamic Planner is intrinsic to that. We love the reporting from Dynamic Planner we can send to a client at that stage, spelling out asset allocation and what the level of risk we have agreed with them means.
Sustainable investing fund research
There are different definitions of ‘green’ money and I think it’s going to take clients decades before their default investing position is ESG. If they’re making money, subject to taking an agreed level of risk, they’re not all going to move into ESG overnight. That’s the challenge for the industry.
At Watt Money, we currently have £10m under management in ESG and all of our clients are invested in funds with an A to AAA ESG rating by MSCI. Having their research available in Dynamic Planner has made our lives more simple. It really helps us make a recommendation. We love it.
MSCI is a very credible organisation and also, it could otherwise cost you, as a business, thousands of pounds each year to access that level of research. There is a lot of detail in a report on a fund and I would much rather include all of that for a client – then they can ask any questions, if they have them – than provide them with too little.
I think, during Covid, people have re-evaluated and re-engaged with what life is all about and how their money can help them. So, bringing in a psychometric sustainability questionnaire is a masterstroke from Dynamic Planner. I love it and we’ve had a number come back from clients. It provides you with a brilliant platform to have those conversations around ESG, which is really positive.
If, as a firm, you haven’t yet started to really think about ESG – because we know the FCA is on this – then I would say you’re potentially in trouble. Yes, I understand the fear of change and change is difficult, and the mountain to climb here is significant, because ESG is a deep subject. But what is available now in Dynamic Planner is a brilliant starting point for firms.
Would I recommend Dynamic Planner to another advice firm? Yes, I would and I do.
Dynamic Planner will simplify your journey to ESG. For either a new client, starting out in investing or for people already on that journey, the Dynamic Planner risk and sustainability questionnaires are easy. I’ve given it to 20-somethings and they complete them, no quibbles.