It was a big decision, to take on a new piece of software that we were going to be paying for. We were using another system, but the reports it produces aren’t really client-facing. It just wasn’t the output we wanted.
We wanted to replace some documents we were giving clients. Now, to be fully compliant, in terms of making clear what things like our charging structure is, it’s a very streamlined process. If I’m doing a review where not much has changed, a simple rebalance or maybe a fund switch, we can quickly turn that around for the client. Dynamic Planner has changed our business.
I’m a believer in technology and I invest money in technology, because I want to be as efficient as possible, with the resource I’ve got. Otherwise, do I take somebody new on to do that work? In that sense, technology enables us to punch above our weight, in terms of the volume of business we can do. Plus, with Dynamic Planner, it is the quality that we can now deliver to clients. I’ve been really pleased with it.
I’ve never wanted my clients to just make do. I have always wanted to give them the best outputs I can. And I’m not just talking about the look of Dynamic Planner reports, which is really nice, and they’re easy to read, but it’s also the information that’s contained within them. It’s that education, that’s the important word, because with Dynamic Planner it is just saying to a client, ‘Look, this is where you are positioned in terms of risk, and if we go up a risk profile, or if we go down, this is potentially what it means in terms of returns and volatility’. You can hang numbers off that.
What I did with a couple of my bigger clients, who are more engaged with their money, before we took Dynamic Planner on permanently, was say, ‘This is a report I’ve given you in the past. And this is a report I could give you in future. Give me some feedback’.
I can’t remember any negative feedback. It was all positive, in terms of the fact that they really liked the style of the report. We get a lot from it. That was really my catalyst to go forward with Dynamic Planner. It was a vote of confidence from my clients.
The Consumer Duty has been all encompassing in 2023, but with any new regulation, I’ve always tried to look at it in a positive light, in terms of what you can get out of it, to improve the way you do things. It has been some of the documenting, the evidencing, which is what we’ve looked at. And it has helped streamline the business, in terms of the investments and providers we use.
I’ve always in the past tried to put the client at the centre of every decision I’ve made, but have I documented it as well as I could have done? Probably not. With Dynamic Planner, we’re much more confident that we are.
In Dynamic Planner, you can create a target market of clients, which has been incredibly invaluable, because it’s enabled us to do that research and have something on record. Of course, you don’t want to be inflexible, but it gives you like a decision tree, in terms of a client. What do they look like? Why have you ended up with this solution? Why that fund? I’ve got a lot more confidence that actually if I were to bring into the business another adviser, we’ve got a clear structure that I could quickly explain to them. I wouldn’t have been able to do that before.
It’s about having a client who comes in your door and you know what they look like, and the types of solutions you should be thinking about. I found that invaluable, in terms of being able to complete that research quickly and having something on record not only for regulatory purposes, but which I can refer back to and which makes sense, if I’m looking at in a year’s time. I can understand the parameters I’ve put in to get to that point.
For our target markets, we try not to group clients by assets under management. We group them by life stage. Plus, we factor in a discussion with a client, asking, ‘What sort of relationship are you looking for here?’ And if it’s ongoing advice, we would recommend a different investment solution.
Previously, you could complete a piece of research and put it on file, but you didn’t flesh it out as much as you should, putting in that detail. This is our due diligence; this is the provider we recommend; these are a panel of funds we’ve narrowed down, which have delivered well in comparison to their peers. Being able to do that through Dynamic Planner, has been really good.
If the client is not going to get a lot of benefit of me sitting talking to them once a year, because nothing’s going to massively change, what we’ll do is put them in a risk targeted solution, where you know it’s going to stay in that risk lane, so to speak.
In my experience, in terms of investment and product research software I’ve used, you can have so many options you can literally get drowned by it. What I like about Dynamic Planner is that you can quickly filter and focus your list: this is what’s important to the client. It focuses you. You’re not going off-piste and putting filters in which are more useful for you as an adviser, as opposed to useful for a client. That’s really valuable.
Six months ago, we were using portfolios run by another research provider, but we weren’t comfortable with their volatility, which was beyond what we expected, given even market volatility. By creating our target markets and narrowing our research in Dynamic Planner, we recommend other solutions, including say a lower cost solution if that’s important for a client. What I like is the confidence that we are recommending an appropriate solution. We know it’s going to keep to its risk profile and not drift.
We search for funds by their Dynamic Planner risk profile. Plus, we look for funds with a ‘Premium’ or a ‘Select’ Dynamic Planner performance rating. Even with the work we do with a DFM, they align their portfolios to Dynamic Planner’s risk profiles. In Dynamic Planner, it splits all the funds out within the portfolio, and that’s really quick and useful, because time is what we always struggle with.
We’ve been using Dynamic Planner for about 12 months and our experience with it has been really good. It’s easy to use, intuitive. I’ve not had any major issues, and my contact with Dynamic Planner has been nothing but first class.
I joined their ‘Early Adopter Group’ as well, which has been invaluable. The developers have watched me navigate the system live as a new user, to see how I use it. Then, if I started to go astray, they ask me, ‘What’s your thinking?’
It’s nice when you see the feedback you’ve given has been embedded in the system. That’s really important, because Dynamic Planner is similar to us. You design the system and we’re using it for the same purpose: increase consumer understanding and put clients in a better position to make decisions, in a way which is compliant and quick.
Previously, the work I would do after a client review would have taken us four to six hours. Now, it’s less than an hour, saving us a huge amount of time. Given the size firm that we are, that’s incredible value. I can now build the business. It’s helped create time that I can focus on going out and getting more clients, because we still have capacity to take on more.
We’ve been able to weather what has been a crazy passage of time. We’ve had 100% client retention over the last three years and part of that I think is that clients can see us investing in the business.
It’s nice to know Dynamic Planner is forward thinking, in terms of, ‘How can we do things better?’ It isn’t a piece of software, which just sits there. Even in the relatively short space of time I’ve been using it, there’s been a lot of new stuff that’s come online which has been really beneficial.
Technology is now a key part of the industry. I just can’t see how you can run a financial services company successfully or compliantly without it today. And competition is high, but I think Dynamic Planner is ahead of the curve. I’ve used a lot of software over the years, but then stopped using it, because it’s not really what we want. Would I recommend Dynamic Planner to another firm? Absolutely.