We introduced Dynamic Planner’s sustainability questionnaire as soon as it came out, and we began sending it to clients with supporting literature Dynamic Planner had 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. 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.

Again, I like it because it takes the conversation away from purely money and the return on their investments in the last 12 months. A client can become blasé about that. This is about the client and why their portfolio is constructed the way it is.

Science behind a client’s profile

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 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, which are pulled out nicely by them. Then their profile is up for discussion with you as their adviser.

I ask a client in a meeting, ‘Can I send you this [sustainability] questionnaire to complete?’ 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.

Sparking a sustainable 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 that 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’.

Lockdown during Covid accelerated so many things. It 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. What sustainable investing does is show how you can make a difference.

Keep pace with trends in investing

I think being current in financial services is so important and Dynamic Planner gives you the tools to talk to clients about things which are current. I think our 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.

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.

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 provide 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.

Clear, end-to-end communication

Without a doubt, I would recommend Dynamic Planner to another firm thinking about sustainable investing. You can feel the pressure building here. 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 you’re providing for a client. And it all looks good and it reads well.

‘Dynamic Planner is a partner for us’

How far Dynamic Planner has come 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 it didn’t want firms sending clients long reports in terms that they couldn’t understand. Dynamic Planner’s reports can be understood by the client.

The relationship, at Home & Finance, we have with Dynamic Planner is so strong, because 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 the future.