We first introduced Dynamic Planner’s sustainability questionnaire in March 2021 and began sending it to clients with literature Dynamic Planner produced, explaining why sustainable investing is important and what the different issues are. I think doing that helps clients have a better understanding.

Checking a client’s sustainability profile is becoming part of our process we complete with a client every two years. And I love the fact that Dynamic Planner no longer calls it risk profiling, but client profiling, because it underlines that it’s all about the customer and their needs and desires, not just money. I think if you get the client’s needs and desires correct at the beginning, then the portfolio placement is easier and better.

Psychological approach

I love the way both the risk and sustainability questionnaires in Dynamic Planner approach the problem from a psychological standpoint, dealing with a customer’s emotions. Then their profile is up for discussion with you as their adviser.

I have been in financial advice for 40 years, but the work Dynamic Planner has done in the last few years on client profiling has really made me look at the psychology of the conversation between an adviser and client, and put emphasis on knowing more about your client.

Once you do, the advice becomes easier and clearer, so there are no misunderstandings. I think it’s a better experience for a client and it’s certainly a more compliant experience. It’s peace of mind for you that you do know your client and that there won’t be any shocks for them at their next annual review. Dynamic Planner’s questionnaires get the client to talk.

I ask a client in a meeting, ‘Can I send you this questionnaire to complete?’ because I prefer clients to complete it on their own, so they don’t feel I’m sat there watching and judging them. In the next meeting, I can pick it up with a client, which leads to a discussion about how the world’s changing and why it needs change, because people don’t tend to appreciate that their investments can make a difference.

Lockdown accelerated so many things and made people look at the impact on the planet when nobody was flying or driving everywhere. People I think realised that they need to care about the planet and being honest, I think people do care.

Be current with clients

I think being current in financial services is so important. And Dynamic Planner gives you the tools to talk to clients here about something very current. Clients have responded positively and in 2021 we have invested more into sustainable funds than we have into other funds. We are seeing that shift, which started in 2020, but which is now taking off, from clients investing in portfolios with partial exposure to sustainable funds to 100% exposure.

We first created a fully sustainable portfolio about three years ago and monitored it closely for the first year. And we liked it. It was a Risk Profile 5, so we began to create others from Risk Profile 4 to 7. Now, most of our portfolios include sustainable funds and we feel that’s the right decision. We can see the performance is there.

The ESG fund research in Dynamic Planner is fantastic – to have it all under one roof. It makes life so much easier. The MSCI fund reports are the backbone of information we provide for clients. There is so much in them; they’re so good; and they’re independent. Dynamic Planner here shines through as that home to independent fund research you can trust.

Triggering a discussion

In responses from clients to the sustainability questionnaires, we have found people marking more neutral answers of ‘neither agree nor disagree’, showing perhaps that they don’t feel they understand enough about sustainable investing. That then still highlights a client’s level of understanding. You can discuss that. It’s harking back to the old days in financial advice where a less confident client might say to you, ‘Well, what do you think?’ But today we can say, ‘No, we need to know what you think’.

I took some new clients on in lockdown, which is rare for me and it has been noticeable that younger investors are already there in terms of sustainable investing. They are aware and they care, although, interestingly, Dynamic Planner’s questionnaire has started conversations with younger generations and highlighted to them that Bitcoin, for example, and regardless of risk, is not a sustainable investment. We might not have ordinarily discussed that.

Communicate clearly with clients

Without a doubt, I would recommend Dynamic Planner to another firm thinking about sustainable investing. You can feel the pressure building here from providers and from the regulator. Dynamic Planner helps you prove, as a firm, that you have completed ESG fund research you can trust and have confidence in. Yes, compliance is so important in this industry, but it shouldn’t get in the way of the client process. It should be a result of it.

We have our client files checked independently and now you can produce a Recommendation report in Dynamic Planner, they commented to us that we had a beginning to end process evidenced in advice provided for a client. And it all looks good and it reads well.

‘We class Dynamic Planner as a partner’

The relationship, at Home & Finance, we have today with Dynamic Planner is so strong. We can see that you want to work with firms and want to know what we think. I class Dynamic Planner as a partner and I can only see that relationship becoming stronger in future.

How far Dynamic Planner has come, in the last two years, is phenomenal, in terms of explaining to our clients, in an easy fashion, why we’re looking at their financial plan and what we’re doing about it. The FCA said a long time ago it didn’t want firms sending clients long reports in terms they couldn’t understand. Dynamic Planner’s Review and Recommendation reports can be understood by the client. That’s so important.