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For today’s discerning financial and investment professional

Using Technology in Financial Planning May 2018







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CONTE NTS May 2018



Ed's Welcome



Brian Tora an Associate with investment managers JM Finn & Co.

7 Using Technology in Financial Planning a special focus on how technology is helping to transform the effectiveness and efficiency of financial planning firms


Using technology in financial planning - Clever Adviser

Richard Harvey a distinguished independent PR and media consultant.

Clever Adviser on how AI can help advisers deliver more robust investment portfolios

11 Using technology in financial planning - ClientsFirst How technology is changing client communication

Neil Martin has been covering the global financial markets for over 20 years.


Using technology in financial planning - TFP Casey Mills -TFP, gives some insights into how the firm uses technology on a day to day basis

14 Using technology in financial planning - Phil Calvert

Brett Davidson

Why IFAs are missing quality leads that are right under their nose

FP Advance


Using technology in financial planning - Better Business Brett Davidson - FP Advance, gives practical tips on how to improve your success with modern marketing techniques

22 Using technology in financial planning

Michael Wilson Editor-in-Chief editor

Sue Whitbread Editor sue.whitbread

financial planner case study featuring Magenta Financial Planning

26 Using technology in financial planning - Michelle Hoskin are you making the right choice? Michelle Hoskin gives a practical view on the processes involved

27 Using technology in financial planning - GDPR GDPR and its implications for advisers

28 Alex Sullivan Publishing Director alex.sullivan

Using technology in financial planning - The Dynamic effect we interview Marcus Brookes, Head of Multi Manager at Schroders and Ben Goss, CEO of Dynamic Planner

32 Using technology in financial planning - Tony Catt Attitude to risk questionnaires – smart use of technology or baffling science? Analysis from compliance consultant, Tony Catt.

36 IFA Magazine is published by IFA Magazine Publications Ltd, Arcade Chambers, 8 Kings Road, Bristol BS8 4AB Tel: +44 (0) 1179 089686 © 2018. All rights reserved ‘IFA Magazine’ is a trademark of IFA Magazine Publications Limited. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in any printed or electronic retrieval system without prior permission. All material has been carefully checked for accuracy, but no responsibility can be accepted for inaccuracies. Wherever appropriate, independent research and where necessary legal advice should be sought before acting on any information contained in this publication. IFA Magazine is for professional advisers only. Full details and eligibility at:

Adviser Spotlight - Newell Palmer Sue Whitbread talks to Kevin Homfray, Finance Director at Newell Palmer, about its recent expansion and new programmes

38 Brian Tora Back to the future – Brian Tora considers what the return of Dr. Mark Mobius might mean for emerging markets investment

40 Ed's Rant Mike Wilson analyses the current state of the Japanese economy and the implications for investment in the region

44 Richard Harvey It ain’t what you do… Richard Harvey wonders whether greater choice is always a good thing

46 Career Opportunities From Heat Recruitment


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E D'S WE LCOM E May 2018

Stay in May And watch the play, say some obser vers. Have they got a point?

You know what they always say about May. The winter’s dreary economic statistics are out of the back door by now, and the cheerier spring figures are already in the indices, so whoopee. Just buy a good book and a panama hat and book yourself in for a long cricket and Wimbledon season until St Leger’s Day heralds the return of the market’s appetite and we’re all set for the final furlong into Christmas. It often comes as a surprise, then, that June, July and August are no longer the tumbleweed months of popular fancy. Especially now, where algorithmic trading, hedging, self-steering passives and so forth are more than capable of autonomously piloting their way through the fund managers’ summer breaks. Instead, the “dangerous month” is now September, the month when real live fallible humans get back to work at their terminals. And when monthly losses are in fact the most statistically probable. (Ironic, no?) For IFAs, this trend away from sell-in-May is quite a blessing because we’re not in the business of persuading our clients to market-time their way through the year. And nor do we particularly want them to waste their money on unnecessary trading commissions which may achieve nothing more than leaving them exposed in cash during an unexpected rally.


Thriller But this year has been an oddity, all the same. February’s sharp drop in the global equity markets resulted from the good news that America’s economy seemed to be in good health, at least as far as employment was concerned. And that interest rates and probably bond yields were due for an upturn, which in turn would dent demand and stunt fixed investment. That much has turned out to be true – the S&P 500’s 8% stumble in the nine weeks to midApril tipped it into technical correction territory on three occasions, and the 40 point rise in 10 year treasury yields between mid-December and mid-April would have knocked 20% off the face value of those bonds. (We haven’t seen a 2.86% yield since the end of 2013.) In other words, we’ve seen quite a lot of the speculative corners knocked off the equity market, and we should surely be braced now for a rotation out from fixed interest that will draw a great big resistance line under equity indices. With an estimated $50 trillion of cash sitting on the sidelines it should be straightforward, right?

Wrong. The ten year Shiller CAPE on the S&P 500 may have dropped a bit recently but it’s still above 31, which says it’s fully valued. Japan’s ratio is a heady 26, although there are reasons for that, as we explain this month. And even India’s Nifty Fifty is at 25. It seems that we’re still climbing that wall of worry we talked about in February. It all depends on a certain Donald J Trump, who is reshaping the world in so many ways. Will he go back to supporting NATO and rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Will he be Beijing’s trade friend or its foe by September? And what about “rapist drug-dealer” Mexico? We have no idea. And without that knowledge, the GPS system for the world’s trading networks is at best losing its bearings and at worst losing its signal. This is no time to be second-guessing anything. Technically speaking When it comes to the use of technology in financial planning, there’s no second guessing here either. We’re delighted to run a special focus on this important topic in this edition, with insight and opinion from a variety of sources. Our goal is to bring you some ideas on the different processes and systems which are helping advisers to deliver a more effective service for clients – and to run more efficient and profitable businesses too. As always, our thanks go to all contributors for their involvement. We hope you find it useful. Michael Wilson Editor-in-Chief


N EWS May 2018

Commodities see-saw April saw crude oil process hitting their highest levels since 2014, as the intensification of tensions in Syria and Iran led to doubts about the prospects for petroleum supplies for Western Europe in particular. Not least, in view of the hardening Russian line in the aftermath of the mid-April missile strikes against chemical weapons facilities in Damascus. Brent futures had risen to $73 per barrel by mid-April, taking the commodity’s year to date performance to 12% (source: Goldman Sachs), but the underlying 8% weekly price growth was

being largely taken in its stride by a market where imbalances are currently felt to be manageable. Responding to Russian threats of gas supply limitations to Western Europe, the United States had given assurances about LPG supplies. The oil supply uncertainties had relatively little influence on gold or platinum prices, however. Bullion remained stuck in the $1,350 range, and US Treasury yields rose marginally to 2.85% - a relatively high level in relation to the last winter’s rates, and a downward influence on equities, which remained subdued.

Mixed asset funds still popular The UK investment market remained confident during the spring, according to the Investment Association, with another £1.2 billion flowing into UK authorised funds from private investors during February, plus another £2 billion from institutions. Funds under management fell slightly, the IA said, because of negative market returns, but they still stood at more than £1.2 trillion by the end of the period. “The old saying, ‘when the US sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold’, was shown to still be true, as US markets sold off on 5th February because of strong employment figures that had awakened worries of a higher-than-expected level of US interest rates from the Federal Reserve. The ensuing global contagion affected world markets, with Asian and European bourses all falling significantly, but volatility in bond markets declined as investors moved quickly to take advantage of the higher yields on offer. In this context, the IA says, investors showed more caution allocating to North American and Global equity funds, which saw small outflows. And it was that which led to net equity fund sales turning negative for the first time since January 2017, with an outflow of £136 million in February. But the largest detractor, according to the IA, continues to be UK equity, with a £510 million net outflow in February. Investors seemed to be preferring Asian, European and Japanese equity funds, it said.


There was also a net outflow from fixed income funds during February, with negative net sales in the £ Corporate Bond and Global Bond sectors. But the negative story was countered by a £1 billion rise in retail sales flows into mixed asset funds. The reason? The IA points out that investors in mixed asset funds tend to be “agnostic” to short term market events, because they feel that asset allocation is in the hands of their fund manager. The last time we saw a net retail monthly outflow was in January 2016, the IA says, and within that time period we have seen 11 months where net retail sales exceeded £1 billion. It appears that IFAs are accounting for a somewhat larger share of the UK investment market than previously. In February, the IA says, UK IFAs and Wealth Managers made gross retail sales of £7 billion, representing a market share of 33%, up from 23.4% in February 2017. On the other hand, gross retail sales from UK fund platforms totalled £8.6 billion, representing a market share of 40.4%, which was down from 46.5% in February 2017. Meanwhile, direct gross retail sales in February amounted to £1.5 billion, the IA says, representing a market share of 6.8%. And yes, this too was down from the 7.7% recorded in February 2017. All good news for the UK advisory sector.



May 2018

The use of technology in financial planning In this edition of IFA Magazine we have a special focus on how technology is helping to transform the effectiveness and efficiency of financial planning firms We’ll start with a warning. If you are a little concerned about the rapid pace in the development of technology within the financial planning profession in recent years, then brace yourself for the idea that it’s only going to get quicker from here on. Regardless of whether you’re the only adviser within your practice or part of a larger team, now is the time to take technology very seriously indeed. Of course, it’s a moving feast. We can all see the developments have been huge to get where we are today, but opting out at this stage, or even taking your eye off the ball, is a one way street to business failure. Technology in the spotlight In our special focus on the use of technology in financial planning, we’re looking at some of the various aspects of the actual business of financial planning. Of course, a comprehensive assessment of all the different types of technology and how they affect the financial planner, adviser and paraplanner is way beyond the scope of a simple monthly publication such as IFA Magazine. However, we’re keen to share the ideas and experiences of a number of people who are embracing technology within their particular sphere, and using it to the best effect. Indeed, we’re very grateful to the many individuals and organisations who have shared their ideas, experiences, insight and thinking with us in order to generate what we hope


is a series of thought-provoking articles to help you to think about your own situation and your own relationship with technology for the future. Our aims are to help your business to thrive, to adapt and to deliver an even better standard of service which will help you exceed your clients’ expectations. Yes, it’s a people business but… Technology is driving change in so many ways. Fundamentally, financial planning is a very personal service which is focused on helping people to identify and go on to achieve their goals in life. But, behind the scenes a myriad of different types of technology are available to help bring about a more effective outcome for clients and/or improved efficiency for the business itself. That’s great news of course. But, with it come potential headaches and complications. The rise of the internet, cloudbased technology and the availability of so many different types of software programmes mean that advisers have more

choice than ever as to how they run their businesses. In fact, one of the biggest challenges which busy advisers face today is how they keep on top of all the different options. It’s not just that, but understanding how they work together is a particular problem. Can you really have too much choice? How can you ensure that system A works well with system B? Know your business You know your business. You know what you’re trying to achieve. But finding the right technology which not only supports your business strategy but works alongside your existing systems can be daunting. What about marketing? Technology is making huge changes in this arena. Making the right choices means having clarity around your objectives, what you do and how you do it, so that you avoid costly mistakes – in terms of time and money. The development of technology has helped more and more advisers, especially those working in small firms, to enjoy economies of scale which could only have been dreamed of by advisers even twenty years ago. It also means that competition within the financial planning space is growing. We know that IFA Magazine readers like to consider an opinion or two and we hope that you find this month’s special focus of interest – and of use.




How can Ar tificial Intelligence help advisers? Sue Whitbread takes a look at the Clever Adviser Technology Ltd (Clever) proposition and talks to Clever’s Patrick Boughton and Nicola Cornish about how AI can help advisers deliver more robust investment portfolios for clients Fearing Artificial Intelligence (AI) is like fearing an electric screwdriver – it fails to acknowledge that it is a tool designed to make doing certain tasks more efficient Artificial Intelligence is advancing, but it is not new in the financial planning space. Take Clever’s first proposition - CleverAdviser™. although the service has been offered to IFAs since 2010, it started life in 1999 – it is constantly evolving but it is not new. What CleverAdviser™ offers is not unlike what Intel offers laptops – it helps improve the processing power of advisers. In turn, this improves the service that advisers can offer their clients, both because they are reassured that their investment portfolios are actively monitored and managed, and because with CleverAdviser™ providing analysis, advisers have time to deliver the oversight, guidance and advice that their clients really value. But should we be concerned about what AI means for jobs in the profession? Not according to the Clever team, as it sees big opportunities from it which can help advisers provide a better service to clients.


Platforms, the internet, social media – they have all been here for long enough now that the market understands that they can be used to enhance client relationships. However, they do not and cannot replace the value that humans place on personal contact. Financial planning is a people business, so using tools that freeup time away from clients ensures that more time can be spent on the areas which clients value most – contact with their advisers. The history of CleverAdviser™ informs their view. Investment management – what is missing and needed? CleverAdviser™ was created by Colum Wilde, a Certified Financial Planner who was looking for a way to protect his clients’ assets. He noticed that a key way in which those assets were eroded was through the underperformance of some funds in their portfolios. He felt that the industry was very good at identifying when it was time to buy into a fund, but not so good at when it was time to get out. He was frustrated by the way in which analysis of fund performance often came too late – both in the sense that the underperformance had

already had an impact and that you may be removing a fund just as its performance was picking back up. A believer in the value of active management, he sought a solution that could identify when it was time to come out of a fund as well as when it was time to get in. Nicola Cornish is the Managing Director at Clever. “Behavioural finance is helpful in that it identifies certain behaviours that markets and people – including advisers, fund managers and clients – demonstrate that are counter-productive to growing wealth” she says. “For instance, for many clients, the risk of loss often exceeds that of the risk of loss of opportunity. Sadly, the herd mentality means that there is comfort in numbers and a desire to be part of something, often at just the wrong moment – for example as markets hit their peaks rather than as they plummet, and funds become cheaper to buy. And of course, in plummeting, that fear of loss becomes a reality. It can be very hard to convince a client that there is a buying opportunity before them. In fund selection, behavioural finance shows that there are similar biases. There is a perceived comfort in



brand names and large funds – it is that herd mentality again. Advisers sometimes find it can be difficult to sell a fund because the fear of getting that call wrong can mean that losses need to be banked. In short – sometimes we can be our own worst enemies.”

time considering the risk profiles and asset allocations of their clients, knowing that CleverAdviser™ is powering the fund selection.

Technology has broadened the tools available to advisers and fund managers alike. So, to use our earlier analogy, we are at a stage where we have both screwdrivers and electric screwdrivers. It means that there is more choice and more precision available to advisers and paraplanners from today’s technology. AI is one such tool. It is not the answer to everything, but it is useful.

So how is Clever developing its range of services?

The CleverAdviser™ approach CleverAdviser™ is an AI tool for advisers and paraplanners which they describe as stripping the emotion out of fund picking. It provides rational, unbiased, unemotional analysis of all UK listed open-ended funds – active and passive – every month. It does so by examining a range of factors for every listed fund and analysing that data. The result is that the system determines which funds are no longer delivering the performance that they should, and which funds are. Successful advisers aim to maximise their time spent advising their clients. Of course, increasing business profitability is important too. Such advisers want to be able to scale their businesses and to maximise efficiency within them. Analysing the UK’s universe of circa 4,000 active and passive funds (unit trusts and OEICS) on a monthly basis takes time. CleverAdviser™ provides a tool which can do this quickly and efficiently. In doing so, advisers can free-up their time to deliver the value that they offer their clients – trusted guidance and advice. For fund selectors, it means that they can spend more


According to Cornish, performance data strongly supports the proposition.

May 2018

“As you would expect, the 8AM Global team are great believers in active fund management – however they, like us understand that investment management is not a one-way street, it is not about active or passive exclusively, it is about providing clients with the performance

In a new twist, the Clever process is now also available in a managed portfolio service provided by 8AM Global. Boughton, Clever’s Sales and Marketing Director said “The 8AM Global team have worked with us to create a range of risk-matched portfolios. They consistently monitor the asset allocations in line with these risk profiles, whilst our tool identifies the funds that can deliver the performance. Monitoring is monthly, which means the portfolios are actively managed – with the 8AM Global team offering governance and oversight and buying in and out of the funds that Clever identifies as necessary.

Fearing Ar tificial Intelligence (AI) is like fearing an electric screwdriver – it fails to acknowledge that it is a tool designed to make doing cer tain tasks more efficient



May 2018

they expect, protecting client’s assets and selling out of underperforming funds at the right time to help achieve this.”

their assets will continue to match their attitude to risk. •

So, what does this mean for investors? performance has been good, the figures below illustrate the returns from one of the existing cautious Clever portfolios modelled from January 2014 against its benchmark sector. The data includes the period from November 2017 to date in which the models have been managed by 8AM Global. You may be asking yourself if this is an improvement on your existing investment solution. This simple answer is almost certainly yes: •

The Clever system provides top performing funds for each specific sector allocation.

Unusually, the Clever system provides for the removal, without those human biases, which so often drive allocation decisions, of under performing funds, quickly and efficiently.

The Clever system provides a governance framework which gives both investor and adviser the piece of mind that

their clients value – knowing that their investment portfolios are being actively managed.”

Investors and advisors are provided with monthly updates on performance and changes to their portfolios keeping them informed and involved.

Clever talk about intelligent investing and their service as ‘powering’ advisers to do what they do best by providing a tool that they can trust, and which frees-up their time in order that they might work on the value they add for their clients and growing their businesses.

This combination of benefits not only provides the sort of performance in good times which investors demand, it also provides the piece of mind which investors need when markets are turning bearish. He concludes: “The current regulatory environment forces advisers to question the suitability of client investments. The 8AM Clever model portfolio service ticks a lot of boxes. It means the suitability of investments is questioned, analysed and updated on a monthly basis. Advisers can choose to communicate these updates to their clients via a system- generated, whitelabelled email, which clients really value. And with functionality, governance and oversight offered by 8AM Global it offers advisers the time and space they need to ensure suitability and deliver the guidance, advice and additional services that

Nicola Cornish is Managing Director and Patrick Boughton is Sales and Marketing Director at Clever Adviser Technology Ltd. which is based in Chester.

Clever Model 4 versus benchmark 8am Clever Model 8AM Clever4 Model 4

Mixed Investment UTUT Mixed Investment 20-60% Shares

20-60% Shares

5 0% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% -10%

0 2/

2 01 /

01 4

0 2/

2 01 /

01 5

0 2/

2 01 /

01 6

0 2/

2 01 /

01 7

0 2/

2 01 /

01 8

Source: Clever Adviser & Financial Express




May 2018

How technology is changing client communication Sam Turner, Head of Digital at ClientsFirst First there was email. Then came social media. And then came… MiFID II?! Changes to client communication are a hot topic for financial advice businesses, whether looked at through the prism of marketing, retention or legislation. At the heart of the change sits, of course, the client. Client preference drove the change from hard copy letters to email. Technology whether that is an email newsletter programme or something more advanced - allows you to keep up with these changing demands and preferences. But technology also drives changes in client preference and behaviour. In essence, advisers don’t need to wait for clients to demand the future; they can show it to them. Can we learn from robo-advice? You can see this happening now with robo advisers. Whatever your thoughts on robo-advice, robo advisers are growing in popularity because they are showing clients a different future. That says something in its own right. A certain demographic of clients wants what they offer. They want ease of use, automation, communication via phone apps and push notifications. The full list of robo advice features is unlikely to be replicated by most advisers, just as the value of the service which advisers offer is unlikely to be replicated by the robo crowd.


But that doesn’t mean that the changing face of technology in advice should be ignored by advisers - far from it. A list of common robo adviser positive attributes might include the following points; speed, ease of use, uncomplicated, cheap, clear. Even the ‘big boys’ of advice can learn something from this. The average piece of Hargreaves Lansdown marketing material still looks like your average Gutenberg Bible. Technology is driving change The technology available to you may not be the same as that used by the venture-funded robo advisers, but it is catching up. New entrants to the platform market (and some of the older ones) offer client messaging options, automated rebalancing and automated alert and risk messaging. Separate and complementary offerings are available when it comes to elements like electronic signatures and rebalancing for those who use a platform which doesn’t support messaging. The latest technology can automatically alert clients to their annual review meeting being due and available times in your diary. When the client selects one, the meeting appears in both of your calendars. The same software can automatically send clients relevant material based on their job role, industry, age, pages on your website they have visited, and more.

Don’t get left behind Clients are unlikely to complain loudly or at any length about processes and communications from you which they consider to be outdated, slow and generally old. This is potentially because they have never been shown the alternative or never been given the opportunity to change their preferences. But at some point, someone will offer them that opportunity, whether it is their email provider, LinkedIn, you or even (whisper it) someone like the FCA. That offer of change will drive their behaviour and influence expectations. It’s time for advisers to be at the forefront of that drive for change.

About Sam Turner Sam Turner is Head of Digital at ClientsFirst, a marketing agency which specialises in working with financial services firms.




Financial Planner case study 2 – TFP Financial Planning Casey Mills, of Essex-based TFP Financial Planning, gives some insights into how the firm uses technology on a day to day basis and how it has made a real difference to both the client experience and the success of the business TFP Financial Planning (The Financial Practice) has been going since 1995. I joined six years ago, after being in Business Development Manager roles with Skandia and Friends Provident, and brought client banks into this business. The challenge over that period has been dragging old, traditional businesses with paper-based files in filing cabinets into what is a modernday financial planning firm. Tech talk We use a number of different systems ranging from Intelligent Office and Voyant to FE Analytics and Microsoft 365. With all technology, we see it as a case of small improvements and constant review. We believe that it does help that we have a young team in place, who pick things up quickly and are openminded to change. All members of our team have dual screens. We also use laptops and iPads


to access emails and documents remotely via Dropbox. We’re always looking for ways to improve, whether that’s with new software, hardware or just streamlining our processes. One thing’s for sure - you can’t afford to stand still where technology is concerned. The client effect From a client perspective, I would say that our use of Voyant for cash flow modelling has had the greatest impact. Clients really value the visual experience it provides, as they see their life played out in front of them. The‘what if ’ scenarios can be a real game changer. Our client meetings have changed so much as result of this. What, historically, would have been a meeting spent talking about portfolio performance and investment funds, is now entirely focused on discussing our clients’ lives, maintaining their lifestyle and



their goals. The client’s only real concern now is “are we still on track?”. This means there’s a much higher level of engagement with the whole financial planning process as clients view it as ‘their story’. Business benefits In terms of the business, our back-office system, Intelligent Office (IO) is absolutely fundamental. We use the software for fact finding, client reports, fee reconciliation and managing all of our workflows. Voyant also integrates directly with it. It’s certainly enabled us to work in a much more efficient and integrated way. Technology has changed the dynamic of our relationship with our clients. We are starting to have meetings via Facetime or Skype as our clients tend to travel more in retirement. While we still meet up with them face to face when they are in the UK, this means we can keep in touch more regularly. The BT Cloud phone system has been invaluable in futureproofing the business. If the office burnt down, we know we could just redirect everything via mobile phones and carry on.

The challenge with all these pieces of technology is to tr y and make them talk to each other


Voyant is extremely complex, so one thing I would recommend to other financial planning firms is Andy Hart’s Voyant Mastery service. It helps your team to get the most from using it through a huge library of video examples and enables them to become skilled users. Or, as Andy describes them, “Black Belt Voyantists”.

May 2018

It’s easy to take the technology we do use for granted. My advice would be to try and use the best that’s out there and constantly evaluate what it’s doing for your business, looking for microefficiencies or improvements to the client experience.

We also use Towers Watson (TW) for risk profiling. Although, two years ago, we spent three months reviewing some of the other main providers, we came to the decision that using TW was more than sufficient to support the in-depth risk discussions we have with clients. In terms of research tools, we’ve used FE Analytics from the start. It may be expensive but it’s a fantastic bit of kit and the clients seem to appreciate the outputs. All of our team members are accredited on it and use it every day. The challenge with all these pieces of technology is to try and make them talk to each other. We can push information into Voyant from IO, for example, but not the other way. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a silver bullet that will integrate everything - although we are always on the lookout.

Casey Mills BSc (Hons) APFS Chartered Financial Planner & Director Casey joined TFP Financial Planning Ltd in August 2012 as a Director and shareholder in the businesses. He has more than 16 years’ experience in the financial services industry and was awarded Chartered Financial Planner status in 2012. He is passionate about the tangible benefits of financial planning and also believes that proactive ongoing investment management is a key driver to help ensuring that clients meet their financial goals and objectives. Casey is married and has two (very active) children, Zachary and Darcey. Outside of work he is a keen sportsman, and enjoys playing golf, squash, tennis and going to the gym.

Looking ahead We’re now starting our next five year plan and will be working with Michelle Hoskin (Standards International) to build a blueprint for our business and see how we take our processes to the next level.


PH I L CALVE RT May 2018


Why IFAs are missing quality leads that are right under their nose Is your financial advice business making the most of its website and other free marketing opportunities? Philip Calvert shines a practical light on simple things which can bring about dramatic results We’ve come a long way… In November 2003 I stood in front of a large audience of IFAs and suggested that something called ‘Social Media’ would be commonplace technology before they knew it. I remember one leading IFA came up to me afterwards and said: “Phil, Social Media has no place in any self-respecting financial planning practice, and I won’t be getting on board your bandwagon.” And he wasn’t the only one who felt that way. It’s amazing to think now, that back then in November 2003, LinkedIn had only been live for six months, yet today it feels as though we’ve always had the business networking platform. Fifteen years later, in February 2018, I ran an internet marketing workshop for IFAs, where I met two in the audience who told me that they ‘still’ didn’t have a website. But they said they were there to learn. You see, IFAs’ relationship with websites, Social Media and the internet is a mixed one.


Yes, there are still a few who don’t (yet) have a website.

Are you making the most of your website?

Most IFAs are on LinkedIn, but freely admit to not knowing exactly why.

Hardly any IFAs have a formal, written down Social Media strategy.

The number of IFAs with personal Facebook accounts suddenly and dramatically increased over the last twentyfour months.

For a few years, I’ve been monitoring how IFAs use their websites. For a great many, ‘having a website’ was just a job on the things-to-do list, and when finally launched they sat back and proudly declared themselves as having entered the world of eCommerce.

A small number of IFAs are proactively looking for ways to create online service propositions.

IFAs get a huge amount of value networking with each other in online forums.

Very few IFAs are converting their website visitors into quality enquiries.w

That’s the current state of the IFA nation in the online world, but its worth putting a lens on one aspect – lead generation.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Simply having a website does not in itself, necessarily bring in new clients. There needs to be an underlying strategy that a) finds your ideal clients, b) drives them to your website and c) converts them into enquiries. Most IFAs I have spoken to don’t have that strategy in place, though they still feel that their website has some part to play in attracting new clients and those who have been referred to them. In our private Facebook group for IFAs, one of the topics that comes up time and time again is lead generation, with typical questions such as:



How do you generate leads? What do you think about Unbiased or VouchedFor for lead generation? and what about appointment-making firms for lead generation? And so on. Everyone has their own view and the results IFAs get from these firms vary enormously. Yet, there are leads right under most IFAs’ noses which are being missed.

of the website is likely to be influencing the number of leads you are being given.

thousand visitors over the month, three hundred and fifty visited only the home page.

At the very least you need to know these numbers every month, and ideally weekly. I check mine daily.There’s a ton of other information that is also useful to know, but those listed above are critical if you are starting to take your website more seriously.

But very often IFAs are stunned to discover that their own bounce rate is in excess of 50%. I’ve seen many at 60%+ and some as high as 85%. If you don’t have a website at all, then you will be blissfully ignorant as to how many people might have been interested in your services…

I often ask IFAs at my workshops if they can give me some basic stats for their website over the previous month, such as:

The fact that so many IFAs don’t know their website numbers suggests something else, and that is how seriously the profession takes the internet as a lead generation tool (or a vehicle to add value to existing clients or professional connections).

1. How many visitors did you get last month? 2. What were the most popular pages on your site? 3. How long did they stay on your site?

This is the modern world

4. What was the page on your site from where most people left?

I still meet many IFAs who tell me that ‘their clients aren’t on Facebook’ or that their clients ‘aren’t on LinkedIn’ or that ‘they don’t listen to podcasts’ etc.

5. How many pages did they visit? 6. What search terms were used in Google that lead them to your site? 7. What is your bounce rate? Back to basics “Bounce rate!?” they ask. Firstly, the questions above are the most basic that every IFA needs to know in relation to their website. And even if you are an IFA in a larger firm where you have no control over the website design, you need to ask to see the numbers, because the performance


May 2018

What’s your “bounce rate”? The ‘bounce rate’ is pretty scary for most IFAs. It’s the percentage of site visitors who arrived – and then left without looking at a second page. For many IFA firms, it is the answer to number 4 above. Yes, your home page is very often the page from where most people leave! If your bounce rate is 35% or under, then you are in the right place. And it means that if you had (say) one

Really? Have you ever actually asked them if they are on Facebook? “No” is usually the answer. And then there are simple things like ‘Out of Office’ emails. We send a daily email newsletter to several thousand IFAs and come holidays and half terms in come the ‘Out of Office’ emails. Yet for every hundred we receive, we’re lucky to see three or four that proactively encourage people to visit the company website in their absence.


PH I L CALVE RT May 2018


Professional and good looking? Unfortunately, ‘professional’ and ‘good looking’ are rarely the prerequisite to converting website visitors into high quality enquiries. We try to cram so much information onto our websites, that all we end up doing is confusing our site visitors. And confusion is definitely NOT what someone considering working with a financial planner really wants. It is confusion that is causing people to leave your site. To make this point, at our last workshop we counted up the number of calls to action or clickable links that were on the home pages of five different IFAs’ websites. The average turned out to be a staggering twenty-six clickable links per website home page!

Yes, one or two have their website address in their email signature, but hardly any say something along the lines of: “Sorry we’re out of the office this week, but in the meantime please visit our website FAQ section where hopefully your question can be answered. Please also take a look at our blog for our latest insights on XYZ…” etc. It’s so easy to do, but hardly any IFAs make the effort to fully integrate their website into their service proposition in this way. In short, I worry that financial advice firms see their website as little more than a ‘vanity’ project that may or may not prove useful. So why do so many people bounce off your website? After all, today’s financial adviser websites look quite impressive, and are a lot further advanced than just a few years ago. They are professionally put together, and even many of the ‘DIY’ website tools such as Wix can result in a good-looking result if you are on a budget.


Many internet marketing experts will argue that for the most part, your website should aim to do one of two things (rarely both): 1. Add value to existing customers, or 2. Get leads and sales Clearly if you have twenty-six clickable links on your home page, the likelihood of you converting a lead drops through the floor. Lead generation is important to IFAs; we know that because the subject comes up in our Facebook group regularly and often. But when we take the time to look at our own website stats, what’s staring us in the face is that people needing financial advice have found your website online and are visiting it. They might have found it because of your use of Social Media, or because they found you in a Google search or perhaps because they were referred to it by one of your existing clients. The problem is, because we’re not yet treating our website as a valuable and integrated asset of our business, we’re missing leads that are right under our noses.

And what needs to happen next is that we convert the ones we really want. The good news is that today it’s possible to make changes to websites that have an immediate impact – and without it costing you time and money. There are proven techniques you can employ which all but guarantee to attract and convert more of the clients you really want. And did you know that in tests, it’s often as simple as making tiny changes. For example, in one test the addition of just TWO WORDS increased the number of conversions by up to 28%. In other tests, changing three words in the title of a page increased enquiries by 54.2% In others, moving the position of an image on a page increased enquiries by 67%In another test, it was possible to increase enquiries on a web page simply by changing the font! Yes, there are several different ways to generate leads for a financial advice practice, but in fact, a great many leads are right under your nose. You just need to know your numbers and understand how modern website marketing works.

About Philip Calvert Philip is an international speaker and consultant, working with financial advisers worldwide - helping them to generate leads and sales through LinkedIn, Social Media and Internet Marketing. Join Philip's private group for financial advisers at AdviserLifeTalk and for information on our next internet marketing workshop contact




Better Business Modern Marketing With today’s technology presenting so many marketing opportunities, why do financial planning firms find effective marketing to be such a challenge? Brett Davidson of FP Advance gives practical tips on how to re-evaluate your marketing strategy to focus on building connections in order to ensure greater success I’m old enough to remember when marketing was genuinely expensive. Back in the day, at my financial planning business in Sydney, we used to send a letter out with some sort of offer to the 8,000 names in our client database. The cost? About 8,000 Australian Dollars (A$) by the time you factored in postage, printing and preparation time. For a small business that would be a pretty significant spend today. Back in the early 1990s, you can imagine, it was even more painful. The late Jay Levinson published the original Guerilla Marketing book in 1984. In it he outlined how smaller firms could be great at marketing, without the large corporate budget. Modern marketing matters Today, marketing yourself and your business has never been cheaper. Many of the tools you need to do so effectively are now free. For example, Mailchimp for sending sexy looking e-newsletters, and social media tools such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.


Here’s the thing. Whilst the marketing tools might be free, marketing yourself effectively still requires work, and lots of it. Creating great marketing is still time consuming, even if you outsource it. The only person who truly understands your clients and your business is you. We live in a world suffering from an ever-shortening attention span, as big news becomes bite-sized and clickbait headlines shout for more attention. Today everyone can produce content. Hooray. However, simply producing more noise is not effective guerilla marketing. It’s all about the quality. What you put out has to resonate with your target market. Stay on target What’s the purpose of your marketing? Eventually it is to generate more business. However, a lot of stuff I see on social media just goes right for the jugular.

For example, someone who I don’t know personally, but who is connected to people I do know, will send a request to connect on LinkedIn. I’ll accept. Next thing you know they’ve sent me a long message asking me to buy or promote their services. Can’t we have a kiss and a cuddle first please, mate? It’s a really poor way to promote your business. All marketing initiatives have to start by creating some engagement. In order for people to buy, they have to have some sort of relationship with you first. For financial planners, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook are not the places to make sales, these are places to build connections. Whatever you do to market yourself, be it through seminars, social media, blogging, or by making professional contacts, you have to build a connection first. “People still buy people”, as Social Media Keynote Speaker Phil Calvert is always, quite correctly, reminding us.



(See the Insert Box on the next page for a more detailed outline of these top five issues for business owners).

How do you connect? You can start by producing material that adds value. Forget about the sale. Be of value first. In a world which is full of more noise than ever before, quality resonates. Take the time to create something that is worth your audience reading or considering. It’s worth working with just a small audience if they are your tribe. Don’t buy Twitter followers, or send out ads to unknowns on Facebook. Let your 50 or 100 clients be your list, and give them something that’s worth sharing with their friends, family and colleagues. Every one of your clients knows at least 200 people just like them. For even a relatively small advisory business, that’s a ready-made audience of maybe 20,000 people. Ensure that what you provide is relevant to your audience. The best way to achieve this is by taking the time to identify your ideal client’s top five issues. For example, if you are targeting business owners as a segment you might come up with the following issues or concerns: 1.

Business issues


How much is enough?


Family issues


Tax issues


Reducing time pressure


Once you’ve captured your own insights into your clients’ top five issues, producing something of value for them becomes much easier. But you’ve got to do the work and get inside their heads first.

May 2018

You don’t need to be unsubtle, beating me with a sales stick. When you try to include some amateurish sales hook, or direct approach for business, you scare me off. We don’t have a relationship yet.

Articles or videos

As financial services management guru Mark Tibergien said, in his recent article Aspire to Be the Employer of Choice, there is “an oversupply of clients and an undersupply of people to provide advice.” Yet many advisers feel like they are struggling to tap into this supposed oversupply.


Connections are king

Talks – Presented at a local Chamber of Commerce for example

E-newsletters – to your business-owner clients (that they can choose to share with their friends and connections who also own businesses)

The key to success is in getting your message out successfully in a world flooded with content. It’s easier than it’s ever been, but like anything worthwhile, it’s still not easy.

Could you do any of the following to provide more explanation and depth around your clients’ top five issues?

Any of the above sent to your professional connections, that also work with business owners

The golden rules of great marketing Remember the two golden rules of marketing:

You have to care about the quality. You have to care about the customers you’re trying to do business with. You have to build connections and some sort of relationship with them first. Build the right connections and your marketing will matter much more to the people you want to work with.

1. Make it good 2. Make it safe For example: When your article provides some brilliant insight on the emotional challenges business owners face at retirement, don’t add a salesy ending. As a reader I get it. I know the rules of the game. If I like what you say I might subscribe to your regular e-newsletter or video to get more, and at some point if I’ve liked lots of what you’ve said, I might even call and ask if I can come and talk to you.

The key to success is in getting your message out successfully in a world flooded with content. It’s easier than it’s ever been, but like anything worthwhile, it’s still not easy




The top five issues for business owners

The following is a list of issues that regularly comes up with clients identifying the concerns of business owners. I’ve broken down each one into more detail, so you can see how we got to the summary list that I included in the main article.

Issue 1 – Business concerns: •

Issue 4 – Tax issues (extracting value from the business in the form of income or capital tax effectively):

Issue 3 – Family concerns:

Most tax effective ways to take income.

How to purchase a business premises or factory tax effectively.

Getting profit out of the business and into personal wealth tax effectively.

Minimising any capital gains tax on sale of the business.

Helping the children or grandchildren with education costs.

Paying for family holidays.

Helping the children or grandchildren with a deposit to get on the property ladder.

Ongoing profitability or improving profitability.



Employee issues – hiring, training, retaining good people.

Pursuing new growth opportunities.

Just surviving.

Work/life balance

Company tax and legal issues.

Succession (family or external).

Maximising future sale value.

Issue 2 – “How

much is enough?”: How much money will they need to be able to stop working at some future point? This may be either to hand over


to the next generation of family involved in the business, internal successors, or even just to sell the business outright?

Doing estate planning to preserve wealth for the next generation – reducing IHT and ensuring the right money gets to the right people at the right time.

Care issues and costs for the parents of the business owner.

What happens if the business owner is unable to work due to accident or ill health?

Issue 5 – Reducing time pressure and managing the work/life balance: •

Offloading or outsourcing tasks to businesses/people to free the business owner to do their best work.

Getting organised financially (r.e. personal finances) – someone to handle the paperwork and stuff that goes with it all.

Brett is the Founder of FP Advance, the boutique consulting firm that helps financial planning professionals advise better and live better. He is recognised as one of the leading consultants to financial advisers in the UK. Professional Adviser magazine has rated him one of the Top 50 Most Influential people in UK financial services on three occasions. You can follow Brett online and via social media: Twitter: @brettdavidson Facebook: LinkedIn: Website:



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Financial Planner case study – Magenta Financial Planning Which aspects of technology are particularly helpful to a financial planning business? Gretchen Betts, Managing Director at Magenta Financial Planning, tells us what works well for the firm's business

A few months ago I was doing an interview and was asked the question "how has our financial planning profession changed over the past decade?" My answer was that, in many ways the profession is much the same, but equally, it has changed significantly too. The name of the game The expert planning and advice that clients require from us remains the same. At the heart of financial planning, we are used to hearing questions like: "Do I have enough money?" "When can I retire?" "How can I maximise the amount I pass on to my children after my death?" It is questions like these which form the real basis of the planning relationship. Whilst rules and regulations change constantly, as professionals, we must keep


abreast and up to date with a huge amount of detail. That’s not new either of course. We have always had to do that to make sure we maintain and build our competence and remain at the top of our game in order to ensure that our clients get the best possible help and advice for their particular circumstances. The tech effect The area where I believe our profession has seen the most change is in the use of technology. In my view, that’s happened for three reasons: 1. Our clients now have access to technology in their own homes. The increased use of smart phones, tablets coupled with superfast broadband and the price of gadgets reducing means these things are normal in almost every client home. The power this gives should not be overlooked by financial planners.

2. Adviser and planner businesses have looked to streamline business processes, adopting new systems and using technology more effectively to provide a better client service and boost profits at the same time. 3. Product and service providers love developing better, smarter and sleeker systems and tech to help us. They have risen to the challenges posed by changing pension rules, new legislation and the heightened awareness by clients to want to focus on lifestyle, happiness and security (over product-only selling). At Magenta, there are three key areas where we use technology to make our client experience better and our business more efficient. Each of these falls into the above three drivers and I shall outline them here:



May 2018

Whilst we’ve historically had Skype and Facetime calls with clients in the past, it’s not always been of high quality or interactive





Magenta uploads document(s) to its portal

1. Secure online client portal We have a secure online client portal which allows a client to log in from anywhere in order to access their information and personal details via their mobile phone, computer or tablet. We are using it daily and it helps us to speed up process flow, improve security and it saves on postage too. Broadly, the portal system works as shown above. For example, before holding an annual planning meeting with a client, we will upload the figures from last year’s lifetime cashflow and our client’s latest investment valuation, together with any other relevant information. The client can then review this information, updating their details where necessary and re-upload them to us. After the meeting, the client can then see their updated lifetime cashflow forecast, our latest recommendations and the relevant appendices. They are also able to authorise us to implement our recommendations via the portal rather than using the post. Of course, not every client wants to use the system and we have some issues, but generally its working well. Our administrator is our "Docsafe champion" and I think you need one person in your team dedicated to it for it to be a success.


It sends an email with a secure link to its portal

The benefits for us and the clients include a faster and more efficient way to send important information to each other, allowing access instantly to documents and a highly secure way of transferring client data – this has helped when reviewing our GDPR responsibilities. 2. Zoom Whilst we’ve historically had Skype and Facetime calls with clients in the past, it’s not always been of high quality or interactive. The technology which Zoom can offer has improved this significantly. Using this system means you can share screens, showing clients their cashflow forecast live as if you were with them face to face and even record the meeting. We use it for client meetings, professional group calls and to speak to one another if we are working remotely too. I can’t praise it enough. 3. Advances in cashflow modelling tools At Magenta we provide a lifetime cashflow forecast for every client. It’s at the heart of everything we do. This technology, whilst it’s not ‘new’, has moved on so much in the last five years and is constantly evolving. The difference which it makes to a client’s experience and understanding of their current

Clients log in to its portal and read / approve / amend documents

financial position and future lifestyle is quite amazing. To any adviser reading this and who hasn’t yet made the transition to cashflow modelling, I’d strongly recommend you doing so. When reviewing the different systems which are available, we wanted one which offered the highest levels of experience, technology and accuracy – not just what may look prettiest or what is the cheapest. Every financial year, UK legislation becomes more complex and the software we use must be able to deal with changes to the latest tax and pension rules. We use Prestwood (also known as Truth) because their commitment to keeping up with changing rules and modernising their software helps us immensely on a daily basis. One of the latest technology improvements we’ve been able to use is a calculator to establish the level of sustainable income from a client’s pension. This is vitally important when forecasting how a client may take benefits in retirement, under new flexible pension rules. The calculator shows you what can be withdrawn, and allows you to adjust the assumptions there and then – with no guess work! The software is also able to support questions about a client’s pension each tax year. Being able to gather all the information about



May 2018

earnings, contributions, fund values, withdrawals and crystallisations in one place, instantly, and to establish for us how much more a client could fund into their pension, without breaking any rules. It combines adjusted and threshold income, annual allowance, money purchase annual allowance, lifetime allowance and any transitional rules the government threw in! It can then show the client, live in a meeting, the effect on their lifetime cashflow and future life, if they maxed out their contributions. The ability to overlay before and after scenarios is fast and empowers the client to be able to make informed decisions there and then. We’ve also seen a focus on the cashflow software trying to be able to mirror the conversations we have with clients, especially around objectives and lifestyle. We can now record and prioritise client objectives, be this about spending, saving or lifestyle objectives (nonfinancial), which can then be added to a time line in the software. It looks great and is a helpful interactive tool to use with clients helping us to engage with them at a deeper level. Human touch In conclusion, at Magenta, we strive to adopt technology to make our service better and clients happier. However, our primary focus is on the fact that people buy people. Always at the forefront of our minds is the need to maintain a highly personal service and, more importantly, remembering that we like talking to and meeting people!


About Gretchen Betts Managing Director – Magenta Financial Planning Gretchen is a Certified Financial Planner CFPCM, Chartered Wealth Manager and Managing Director at Magenta Financial Planning – an award winning, specialist Financial Planning company based in South Wales that helps its clients build plans for future security and happiness. Co-founder of Magenta in 2016 with her business partner, Julie Lord, the business has won multiple awards. These include ‘Start-up Company of the year 2017’ from the Bridgend Business Forum, Professional Adviser’s ‘Financial Adviser of the year 2017 (Wales)’ and ‘Accredited Firm of the year 2017’ from the CISI. She is passionate about working closely with clients to understand what they really want from life and to create and implement a Lifetime Financial Plan to help them achieve their dreams. Gretchen is chairman of the South Wales branch of the CISI and passionate about encouraging more women to consider financial planning as a career.



May 2018

Are you making the right choice? Michelle Hoskin of Standards International shares her thinking on a process which firms can use to select the systems which are most appropriate for their business success There is no avoiding the power of, or our reliance on, technology. This reliance is on the increase, and it is only when technology fails us do we realise how important it is in our everyday lives. Sadly, I continue to see advice firms fail miserably in the selection, implementation and understanding of their technological platform. Why? Well there are many reasons for it, all different and depending on the size and the makeup of the teams within each individual firm. With the different array of systems and platforms available, it continues to be a minefield for firms when selecting a system for themselves. Whilst it’s understandable, the biggest mistake made is when firms select systems used by their colleagues and professional peers. But why? This approach makes perfect sense because on one hand, let’s be honest, there is no point in reinventing the wheel BUT (and it’s a big but!) no single firm or individual is the same, therefore no single firm or individual has the same requirements as the other. So what can we do? Here is a checklist you can use to assess how to make the choices that work best for you: 1) Project your business forward 5 years (any longer from a technology perspective would be too far ahead). Think about what your business would look like in 5 years, what would it do, and who would it do it for? Think about how it is going


to operate in the general sense, how does it communicate with its clients and key stakeholders, how does it deliver services to its clients and how do the team work together? 2) Map it out. With all of this information in your mind, grab a piece of paper and write this stuff down. Start to map out what your business looks like in the future. There is little point in designing and implementing systems and platforms to suit the needs of your business today when in fact the systems and platforms you select and implement today are merely the tools to help you build the business of tomorrow. 3) Go to market. Equipped with your business blueprint, get out there and engage with every dedicated financial services technology provider. Your business blueprint will allow you to clearly explain what your business will look like in the future and the provider’s ONLY job is to tell and show you what functionality their tools

have to give you the functionality that you need to allow your business to achieve its potential. 4) Don’t be bamboozled! There will be a tendency for the technology providers to get carried away and focus on showing you all of the bells and whistles that their systems have. Don’t let this happen - stay focused on what you want the system to do and structure the discussions so that you get a clear insight into each relevant area of their system. 5) Call in the experts. And when I say experts, I don’t mean the dedicated expert at a particular system provider! I’m talking about independent, objective and impartial advice, a consultant and/or expert who is working on your behalf to design and help you select the system that will do what you need and want. There are many in the marketplace at the moment and their independence will be key to you finding the system that will ensure you thrive.

About Michelle Hoskin Michelle (aka Little Miss WOWW!) is founder and director at Standards International Ltd. She is well known for her endless enthusiasm and energy, infectious personality and unique outlook on what she describes as a “magical profession”. With over 20 years’ experience working alongside some of the world’s most successful financial services organisations, Michelle is an internationally recognised author, speaker, coach and leading expert in identifying and designing international best practice standards of operational excellence. Relentless in her pursuit to drive a global movement of change within financial services, Michelle is fully committed to supporting financial professionals throughout the world to achieve things they only dreamed were possible and working with them to become the best possible version of themselves.



May 2018

GDPR and its implications for advisers Steve Andrews, Head of Managed Services at Focus Solutions, shares some practical measures to help you make sure your business complies with the changes ahead There are just a few weeks until the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) finally comes into force on May 25. However, a significant number of businesses are still unprepared, and some are even unaware, of what it actually is. According to a government survey released earlier this year, only 38% of businesses know about GDPR and only over a quarter of those businesses have got to grips with what GDPR means.

and who it is being shared with should be registered and reviewed rigorously to identify potential risks. This is an opportunity to declutter by reviewing the entire filing system and identifying the number of copies of each paper document in existence and decide whether it is necessary. •

Time is now of the essence. Whilst it can seem daunting and onerous, there are some simple initial measures which advisers can put in place to get their house in good shape before the deadline. Areas for review •

Implementing the simple cybersecurity measures is a good starting point. These could include ensuring that all security updates released by software suppliers and/or any known security patches are applied and that the systems and software are constantly assessed and scanned for vulnerabilities. It is imperative to ensure that backups are up to date and a web application firewall is in place. It is equally important to ensure that all software being used is compliant and understand if it will affect the data rights of clients. A clear understanding of the type of data held, its origins, purpose


It’s also worth bearing in mind that even the most secure physical information storage can be in jeopardy via the duplication of data on other devices such as printers and photocopiers. Any disposal should be carried out securely and responsibly. Human error is also a factor to be taken into consideration. Untrained human handling of documents can result in exposure to data breaches. So, staff should be suitably trained, understand the significance of the legislation and know how to handle data responsibly. All assessments made, and measures put in place should also be recorded in clear company policy. Additional elements such as Fair Processing/Privacy notices must also be updated and clearly communicated to clients explaining how and why their data is processed and demonstrating that their privacy and security is taken seriously.

Last, but not least, take the time to understand the 72-hour rule, which is often misinterpreted. One is obligated to report within the first 72 hours of “becoming aware” of a data breach as opposed to 72 hours since the “actual breach” taking place.

About the author Steve Andrews is Head of Managed Services at Focus Solutions with responsibility for now:advise and hosted solutions. Steve was formerly Head of Adviser Technology Deployment at Sesame Bankhall and has also worked at CAERUS Capital Group.

About Focus Solutions Focus Solutions is a financial services software house, founded in 1995. Focus’s products are primarily designed to support the delivery of advice. Focus works with leading financial advisers and networks to deliver software solutions across a range of sectors including investments, pensions, protection, mortgages and general insurance. Advisers can use one of Focus’s specialist software products targeted at a particular aspect of advice, such as Cash Flow Modelling, or our full front to back office solution, now:advise.

Contact W: https://www.focus-solutions.

T: 0800 111 4803 (sales enquiries) or 01926 468 300 (general)



SCH RODE RS May 2018


Better together Marcus Brookes, Head of Multi-Manager at Schroders, talks to Sue Whitbread about how the combination of Schroders fund management expertise and Dynamic Planner’s risk targeting and asset allocation model has led to greater choice for advisers

SW: Marcus, could you start us off by talking us through your approach to managing the portfolios for the relatively new Schroder Dynamic Planner fund?


MB: The approach that we use for the Schroder Dynamic Planner range of five portfolios utilises the same philosophy and process that we use on the Schroder Multi-Manager Diversity Range. This is to formulate a market view and then invest with the very best fund managers that are positioned to benefit from those market conditions. Put simply, where we find assets that we are bullish on, we seek out the

best managers in that area that are bullishly positioned. For the Schroder Dynamic Planner funds we can implement these views whilst ensuring that the funds remain within the volatility parameters as set by Distribution Technology’s Dynamic Planner, which is an important feature of these funds. The existing Schroder Multi-Manager Diversity range of funds is risk rated, which means they are assigned a rating that reflects their expected volatility due to the risks they are currently taking. Importantly though, this range of funds is not targeting a certain level of risk rather they target outperformance of their benchmarks which could see a 4 rated fund become 3 or 5 depending upon the market conditions.



The new Schroder Dynamic Planner range has been designed to enable advisers who use Dynamic Planner, the market leading provider of digital risk profiling and financial planning services, to risk profile their clients to select investment solutions that are suitable for their clients’ requirements. The funds target Dynamic Planner risk profiles from level 3 to level 7. The range commits to being risk managed, so for instance the Schroder Dynamic Planner 4 fund will always be managed to achieve a risk outcome that stays within the boundaries of the Dynamic Planner risk level 4. This is where our partnership with Dynamic Planner has proved to be so important, as we can use their data to model the fund’s potential transactions before we implement them. We have also chosen to cap the cost of the Schroder Dynamic Planner range at 0.99% OCF to offer a lower cost solution for advisers. This means we have chosen to use some passive funds alongside active funds, to enable the costs to be reasonably low for a multimanager fund. We have always been able to select from the whole of the market, which has meant using some internal funds which we have also done for this new range. Schroders has a policy of no “double dipping” which means there is no annual management charge (AMC) made of these funds. The remainder of the Schroder

Our partnership with Dynamic Planner has proved to be so important, as we can use their data to model the fund’s potential transactions before we implement them

Dynamic Planner funds are invested in third party funds and there is a huge overlap with the Diversity range in the names that are used, with funds from Blackrock, Jupiter, Morgan Stanley, GLG, Hermes and Invesco for instance. SW: What are you doing with your portfolios at the moment? Where do you see the best opportunities? What do you see as the main threats to performance? MB: At the moment, we remain comfortable that global growth is ‘ok,’ monetary accommodation should continue to be removed and inflation is likely to tick upwards. This points to a value skew across equity markets and a preference for non-US assets over the US at present. The US dollar looks likely to remain weak as falling foreign demand and both a widening budget deficit and trade deficit put downward pressure on the currency. Our fixed income holdings remain in selective, flexible mandates with an overall underweight to duration given our current expectations for gradually rising interest rates. Our alternatives are there to provide protection should


May 2018

either equity markets or fixed income markets wobble. Given the extended nature of a wide range of asset market valuations, cash / short term liquidity positions act as a counterbalance to the risk we are willing to take elsewhere in the portfolio. But, whilst we have expressed concern about certain market levels, our positioning does have the ability to outperform in rising or falling markets should the shift from growth to value continue. So, where might we be wrong? One of the larger risks to markets is the potential for economic growth to roll over, given the extended nature of this economic cycle. Recent survey data in Europe and the US has started to come off its recent highs and this is something we will continue to monitor closely. We firmly believe that the current portfolio is appropriate in our desire to provide investors with strong, longterm, risk-adjusted returns. SW: When it comes to risk targeting, how much of a constraint is that for your overall asset allocation and fund selection decisions within the actively managed portfolios? MB: As active managers, we were reticent to launch a risktargeted fund range that, on the face of it, would take away our ability to add value to clients. There was a misunderstanding, shared by us, that as markets become more volatile and your risk statistic rises, you would be forced to sell in order to cut risk. Resulting in selling into a falling market and buying into a rising market, which is the opposite of what you would expect to do.


SCH RODE RS May 2018


However, after many meetings with Distribution Technology we’ve got a much better understanding of things. There are risk benchmarks, and as the volatility rises and falls with the market we can track those benchmarks. Our volatility would move around but over the long term it would remain within target, meaning we can comfortably remain inside the volatility limits, whilst maintaining a high level of flexibility in our asset allocation. A key factor in all of this, and one that only exists due to the close relationship, is the access we have to their volatility data. This enables us to adjust the portfolios on a day by day basis if needed. This is a huge advantage when compared to the competitor set, who instead receive data on a quarterly basis, potentially resulting in the need to rebalance portfolios significantly in order to remain within the volatility limits. SW: Your relationship with Dynamic Planner is an interesting one. How does that work? How does the technology help you to deliver benefits for advisers and their clients? MB: The partnership with Dynamic Planner was very much a case of ‘right place right time’, for them and us. We had been discussing the idea of launching a risk-targeted range of funds for some time, as we had watched this part of the industry grow and it seemed the natural step. Distribution Technology bring an awful lot of expertise and technology to the table, having established themselves as the market leader in fund risk-profiling. One of the greatest benefits to using this


fund range is the enhanced reporting tool that investors will receive. It’s of a very high standard and can have each adviser’s logo on it, meaning it really feels like a private client experience. This really helps the fund range to stand out from the crowd.

Emerging markets generally carry greater political, legal, counterparty and operational risk.

Equity prices fluctuate daily, based on many factors including general, economic, industry or company news.

Schroder Dynamic Planner range risk factors

High yield bonds (normally lower rated or unrated) generally carry greater market, credit and liquidity risk.

A rise in interest rates generally causes bond prices to fall.

In difficult market conditions, the fund may not be able to sell a security for full value or at all. This could affect performance and could cause the fund to defer or suspend redemptions of its shares.

Failures at service providers could lead to disruptions of fund operations or losses.

Past Performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated. The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested. Exchange rate changes may cause the value of any overseas investments to rise or fall.

A failure of a deposit institution or an issuer of a money market instrument could create losses.

The counterparty to a derivative or other contractual agreement or synthetic financial product could become unable to honour its commitments to the fund, potentially creating a partial or total loss for the fund.

A decline in the financial health of an issuer could cause the value of its bonds to fall or become worthless.

The fund can be exposed to different currencies. Changes in foreign exchange rates could create losses.

Marcus Brookes heads the MultiManager Team at Schroders having joined from Cazenove. He graduated from the University of Sterling with an MSc. in Investment Analysis. He brings over 20 years’ investment experience to the team.



May 2018

The dynamic effect IFA Magazine talks to Ben Goss, CEO of Dynamic Planner IFAM: Ben, for those who aren’t familiar with it, can you explain what Dynamic Planner does, and how it works? BG: Dynamic Planner is the UK’s most widely used digital risk profiling and investment process. It is used by many thousands of financial advisers to ensure investment suitability, increase efficiency and demonstrate the value they bring to clients. In 2017, £3bn of client recommendations were made using the service. Embedded at the heart of Dynamic Planner is our proprietary asset and risk model, which we have been running since 2005. It provides a range of 10 asset allocation strategies which have been constructed to provide risk-adjusted outcomes over the longer term. As part of the investment process Dynamic Planner offers risk profiling, portfolio reviews with back office and platform integrations, cashflow modelling, investment research and recommendation functionality, great client reporting and digital services such as an iPad and iPhone app and AccessAdvice which enables firms to deliver automated advice via their website. We’re always developing our processes and we were delighted to collaborate with Schroders on introducing their new range of active funds. With their proven expertise and our risk targeting and asset allocation model, this partnership will provide greater choice for investors seeking suitable long-term funds. It’s a great combination. The Schroders team, led by Marcus Brookes, researches an investment universe of more than 5,000


funds, aiming to select the best combination of products from leading fund managers across equity, bond and alternative asset classes on a global basis. The team will make tactical asset allocation decisions while operating within the Dynamic Planner risk profile, meaning clients’ money will always be aligned to their risk profile. IFAM: So what benefits does this bring for advisers and their clients? BG: The benefits are many. The technology assists advisers in helping clients to achieve their goals at a risk that they are willing and able to take. It also helps ensure investment suitability through helping advisers to accurately risk profile their clients, ensures investments profiled in the service are categorised using a consistent definition of risk as that used with the client, and tracks the risk of investments to ensure ongoing suitability. Aside from that, it also improves efficiency and productivity when it comes to completing portfolio reviews and carrying out cash flow modelling scenarios. Portfolio reviews can be completed within minutes and clients can be involved in the process through the use of apps and online invitations to complete the risk profiling and review process quickly and efficiently. The system demonstrates the value that advisers add for clients in many ways. These include producing great client-facing reports and white label apps that support the delivery of the adviser’s investment servicing digitally while keeping the adviser at the centre of the relationship

IFAM: What’s next for Dynamic Planner? Are there any further developments planned? BG: Both advisory firms and asset managers have many challenges ahead. MIFID2 and the recent publication of the FCA’s further consultation on its Asset Management Study, keeps the lime light firmly focused on investment suitability, client reporting, having clear fund objectives alongside investor-centric benchmarks. These provide us with some very exciting opportunities and we remain focused on our strategy of helping advice firms ensure suitability, enhance their efficiency and demonstrate value to their clients.

Ben Goss is CEO of Dynamic Planner, UK financial advisers’ most widely used risk profiling and investment process. Ben is an award-winning entrepreneur, with more than 20 pioneering years’ experience at the forefront of financial services. Ben co-founded Dynamic Planner in 2003 to apply the lessons he had learned about how FinTech can be used to support high quality financial advice.


TONY CATT May 2018


Attitude to risk questionnaires - smar t use of technology or baffling science? With a number of risk profiling solutions on the market, compliance consultant Tony Catt warns of the limitations for those who rely solely on the use of technology to establish a client’s attitude to risk Over the years, advisers have been in constant pursuit to try and find a consistent means of assessing clients’ attitude to investment risk. For many years, this assessment was simply ticking a box on a scale, where the clients would invariably end up ticking the box that the adviser felt was most likely for them (see table 1). Many advisers will remember this type of table on their fact find, the scales may have

been 1-5, 1-10 or somewhere in between with broad brush descriptions of risk types, but the ethos was the same. Typically, clients tended to end up somewhere in the middle as they would want to appear to be sensible people, although every so often there were oddities who would end up at either end of the scales. Nowadays, the risk descriptions remain the same, but there is rather more detail in the description (see table 2)

Table 1




May 2018

Table 2

This level of description gives the client some indication of the returns that can be expected at different levels and also the narrative may enable them to identify a level that matches their ideas and attitudes.

This varies from adviser to adviser. Some advisers will have an in-depth discussion with their client, which will involve contemplation of the following issues: •

Assessment of personal circumstances

Definitely maybe

Client’s objectives

So how do we reach the point whereby the adviser is able to help the client to work out what is the correct and most suitable level for them?

Timescale of investment

Limitations of technology

Amount of investment, particularly considering overall amount of wealth

The problem with most questionnaires is that they do not directly ask any of these questions and the underlying


Capacity for loss, including discussion of consequences of certain levels and timings of loss.

Need to take risk – if modest returns are required, higher risk is not needed, irrespective of the questionnaire risk score.


TONY CATT May 2018


algorithms within the programs would not be able to handle the subjective answers that the clients would give.

of the questionnaires could be questioned, but they are likely to be statistically likely to be fairly accurate.

For the advisers using these, the risk questionnaire gives guidance regarding the most likely risk level and provides a bit of science and possibly some consistency to a subjective judgement.

Other advisers place greater or even total reliance on the completion of the risk questionnaire. Often the questionnaires are sent to the clients for completion, without any discussion whatsoever from the adviser. So, the advisers take the questionnaire answers, load them into the software and then base all their advice on whatever score the software provides.

The use of questionnaire software does provide some consistency to the deliberation of attitude to risk. The accuracy

Some concerns I am concerned when I hear that advisers have sent risk questionnaires for completion by the clients themselves . Having observed many adviser meetings myself, I know that even advisers often struggle to explain the thrust of particular questions or the meanings of graphs that appear in questionnaires. If the advisers, with all their experience, are struggling to do this, what hope is there for a client to complete the questionnaire without being able to ask for any explanations?

An example In this example from an insurance company website, the risk questionnaire is described as follows:

People who know me would describe me as a cautious person.

I feel comfortable about investing in the stockmarket.

How it works: •

Confirm the extent to which your client agrees with 12 statements about their current situation, feelings and attitude to risk. The answers are converted into a score between 1 and 100. The score is mapped to one of our seven risk attitude categories. These cover the full range of risk profiles, from very cautious to very adventurous. You can then generate a report which confirms your answers and gives you an idea of your attitude to risk.

From some specimen statements, select which of the answers most closely matches your client's current situation, attitudes and feelings.


I generally look for safer investments, even if that means lower returns. Usually it takes me a long time to make up my mind on investment matters. I associate the word 'risk' with the idea of 'opportunity'. I generally prefer bank deposits to riskier investments.

I find investment matters easy to understand.

I am willing to take substantial financial risk to earn substantial returns.

I have little experience of investing in stocks and shares.

I tend to be anxious about the investment decisions I've made.

I would rather take my chances with higher risk investments than increase the amount I'm saving.

I am concerned by the volatility of stockmarket investments.

The range of answers for each question is:

strongly agree agree no strong opinion disagree strongly disagree In the example, if a client opts for the 3 in the middle ( strong opinion), their attitude to risk is likely to be pretty much in the middle. Conversely, if they have strong opinions, then they will appear at either end of the scale. Some questionnaires phrase multiple questions on the same issue, which can lead to contradictory answers being given.



May 2018

In conclusion There are some much more detailed questionnaires running to 17 or even 35 questions offered by Oxford Risk or Distribution Technology amongst others. I would presume that the more questions there are, the result should become more accurate. Risk questionnaires do have a major role to play for the modern adviser business, but mainly because their compliance officers place too great an emphasis on them. They want something on file that gives a consistent, provable result. The FCA has studied the risk questionnaires and concluded that very few of them are entirely reliable and almost certainly should not be the sole source of risk assessment. They should form a part of the process, but the actual discussion of attitude to risk is too subjective and personal to the clients to be truly, accurately assessed by a computer algorithm.

About Tony Catt Formerly an adviser himself, Tony Catt is a freelance compliance consultant, undertaking a whole range of compliance duties for professional advisers.



N EWE LL PALM E R May 2018

Adviser Spotlight -Newell Palmer As progressive financial planning firm Newell Palmer celebrates its 25th Anniversary, Sue Whitbread talks to Kevin Homfray, Finance Director at the group, about the business itself and how it has expanded exponentially through an effective acquisition programme SW: Many congratulations to you and the whole team at Newell Palmer on reaching your 25th anniversary! Can you talk us through how your business has developed and grown over that time? KH: Yes of course. Way back in 1993 when Philip Stepp, our Group Managing Director, established the business, it was just himself and one other financial adviser, Peter Bannister, plus an office manager, Fenella Bayliss. Both Peter and Fenella still work for Newell Palmer and are fellow Directors – Peter is heavily involved with the in-house Investment Committee and Fenella is Operations Director. Initially Philip and Peter provided financial planning advice to predominantly corporate clients, but as the business grew and employed more advisers and took on more support staff, it tended to evolve into working more with personal clients as well as corporate clients. In 1998, we started our first jointventure, linking in with a local accountancy firm to provide financial planning services to the clients of the accountants. Within the space of 5 years, Newell Palmer had established a further three jointventure partnerships. In 2006, we decided to dissolve the joint-ventures with the accountancy practices and bought out the accountancy partners. We believed that the joint-venture model had run its course and we felt that buying other IFA firms was the way forward for us in terms of growing our business.


So, let’s fast forward 25 years. Newell Palmer has acquired over 45 IFA firms, and I’m pleased to say that there are several more in the pipeline for 2018. If we look at the numbers today, Newell Palmer has 3 offices; Wolverhampton, Bromsgrove and Nuneaton with a total staff of 118 employees, 32 of whom are directly employed financial advisers. We have 6,630 active clients and manage in excess of £2 billion in funds under advice. Our projected turnover for 2018/19 is almost £13 million and we are on schedule to achieve this, along with a 22% EBITDA. SW: Interestingly, you’ve grown the business rapidly by making acquisitions in recent years. What has your experience of the acquisition process been like? KH: Each acquisition is unique and will present varying levels of challenges for us. We undertake a detailed and rigorous due diligence process with any firm that we are looking to acquire. Our priority is to ensure that we can immediately

take over the servicing of the clients and their investments and policies. If we don’t believe we can do this, for whatever reason, then we will not proceed with the acquisition. As a result of our thorough due diligence we ensure that all areas of our business are ready to deal with the new clients we are about to acquire. I must add that internal communication of any forthcoming acquisition is vital to the unified onboarding of new clients. In terms of possible future acquisition targets, these are identified both inhouse and from third-party brokers. SW: Do you have a clear profile of the types of clients which the business wants to work with or the types of businesses you’re looking to acquire? KH: No not really. Nothing is set in stone. I will explore all enquiries from IFAs looking to sell their business or client bank. However, an ideal scenario is when an IFA firm, with between one and three advisers and which has a loyal client base, is


N EWE LL PALM E R May 2018

looking to retire or perhaps leave the profession because of regulatory or compliance demands. Over the last few years we’ve worked hard to map our end-to-end business processes across all our departments. This allows us to track, monitor and report on all aspects of our involvement with clients. As a result of this we can add acquired clients into our business in a scalable and consistent manner. SW: Aside from making business acquisitions, how do you find new clients? KH: Acquiring clients and FUM is our main method of growing the business. However, we do find clients via more traditional methods such as referrals from existing clients to their friends and family, enquiries via our website and from lead generation websites such as, as well as selfgenerated leads from our 32 advisers. SW: Financial planning is all about people but technology plays a big part behind the scenes. What systems do you use within the firm and how well do they work together? KH: I and my fellow Directors believe that technology is vital to the success of our business. Way back in the early 2000s, we identified that ‘the cloud’ was the way to go. We migrated all of our back-office systems and applications into a cloud environment then to help ring fence all of our data and to put it in a single secure place. Utilising cloud technology also allowed us to put a robust disaster recovery process in place – should we ever experience a major incident such as a fire at one of our offices. We frequently reassess our use of technology to see if we can use IT to streamline our processes, such as single keying of information; we input information into our CRM (Intelligent Office) and then from there, via third party integrations, where needed for clients we can obtain a quote and progress this through to a live policy. We have also set-up automatic valuations on lots of our client plans, reducing the burden on our administration team when preparing for client review meetings. Our admin teams can access policy details and values in seconds.


Another example of our use of technology is how our CRM automatically matches 98% of the payments we receive each month from providers – we receive between 10,000-13,000 payments. Historically this data would all have been matched individually by my accounts team. If we can find a way to harness IT to make our business more efficient then we will investigate if it’s possible. SW: When it comes to investment strategy, how does the business operate? KH: Our focus is to provide whole of market, unrestricted financial advisory services. When it comes to our investment strategy, we can offer clients both inhouse actively managed or outsourced passive solutions. Newell Palmer has five actively managed portfolios, all of which are available on multiple provider platforms. All matters of fund selection and asset allocation are determined by our Investment Committee and we have a dedicated team, who in conjunction with our Investment Committee, manage these five portfolios. They deal with research, monitoring fund performance, fund switches, auditing and reporting. Newell Palmer also offer passive solutions, again these are available on multiple provider platforms. The eventual choice for an individual client is, of course, based completely on what is most appropriate for that client’s individual circumstances, goals and risk levels. SW: How do you co-ordinate your strategic planning? How do you innovate and continue to build best practice? KH: Just as we talked about our approach to technology, in this area we are also keen to innovate when it comes to our best practices and processes. We have an Operations Team that continually looks to update all areas of the business. We also use a panel of external consultants to assess and recommend areas where we could add improvement or make needed change.

SW: As a business, what is your biggest business challenge at the moment? KH: The recent introduction of new regulations, such as MiFID II and GDPR is certainly going to be a big area of focus for many IFAs, this includes Newell Palmer. SW: Let’s look ahead to the next 5 years. What are your plans to grow the business going forward? Are you planning to make more acquisitions? KH: We have a three year business plan, which runs through until 2020. Our main priority is to continue ‘providing the best possible advice and services to our clients’ – this is our primary focus. At the same time, our business and operational objectives are to acquire further like-minded IFAs, in a controlled manner and at a sustainable pace. The goal is to increase our turnover to £13 million and increase our business profitability to 25% EBITDA However, as we discussed earlier, we are due to achieve a £13 million turnover this financial year, so I’m pleased to say that we are ahead of our business plan projections. Long may that last!

About Kevin Homfray In May 1993 Kevin joined Barhale Construction on an Apprenticeship before progressing within the firm. In 2002 he moved to Newell Palmer to head up the Accounts team. As Finance Director for the group, Kevin oversees the accounting function with specialities covering networking, funding and acquisitions. He is married with a 10 year old daughter. Kevin enjoys walking with his dog, loves holidays, kayaking and reading. He’s a selfconfessed Star Wars nerd and proud!



Back to the future – Emerging Markets in 2018 What does the return of Dr Mark Mobius tell us about the prospects for emerging markets? Brian Tora reflects on whether these markets are worth revisiting Learning that Dr Mark Mobius was to come out of what turned out to be a very brief retirement to run a new emerging markets fund at the ripe old age of 81 made me think. Mark Mobius was incredibly well known as the head of the emerging markets team at Templeton and lead manager of the Templeton Emerging Markets Investment Trust. He was early into the business of spotting opportunities in these lesser developed countries, but was soon followed by the world and his wife in establishing investment capability all around the emerging world.


Ahead of the crowd Templeton had established something of a track record in finding where the next sweet spot for investors might arise. The rapid growth of Japan’s industrial capability throughout the 1960s and 1970s delivered massive returns to those prepared to back one of the clear losers from the Second World War. Sir John Templeton, American born but a British citizen, was in the vanguard of those prepared to stake money in the Japanese recovery. From being the manufacturer of cheap replicas, Japan became the provider of high quality goods, with many of

their companies becoming household names around the world. As has so often proved to be the case, investors’ enthusiasm to jump aboard this particular bandwagon drove share valuations to unsustainable levels. The peak for the Nikkei 225 Index was achieved at the end of the 1980s. By then Templeton had already jumped ship, preferring to source their ideas from cheaper markets. As readers will no doubt be aware, even now, despite several years of good stock market performance, Japan’s benchmark index lies well below the level reached nearly 30 years ago.



The emerging markets question We had a similar, though less dramatic, rise in emerging market share valuations. The simple argument that these are populous nations, enjoying a strong work ethic, with much catching up to do on the developed world, encouraged investment managers to pile in willy nilly, regardless of the price they paid. I well recall Bruce Stout, manager of the Murray International Investment Trust, pointing out that subsidiaries of multi-nationals quoted in these countries enjoyed premium ratings to their parents, even though the extra benefits they might accrue were far from obvious. Since the financial crisis of a decade or so ago, emerging markets have been far from a one way street. Extravagant share ratings have, by and large, been consigned to history and value undoubtedly exists. But the astute investor will be only too well aware that emerging markets cover a wide variety of nations and economic experiences, not all of which have proved beneficial in recent years. Those countries, like Brazil or South Africa, where economic prosperity relies heavily on buoyant commodity prices, suffered hugely in the downturn


that followed the financial collapse of 2008. Nigeria and Russia have felt the pressure from falling oil prices, while political instability, such as in Thailand in years past, can also undermine confidence. And this is before you get started on such topics as corporate governance, accounting standards or financial transparency – let alone government-inspired corruption. What’s in a name? But what exactly are the emerging markets? Lord Jim O’Neill coined the term BRICs, meaning Brazil, Russia, India and China, when he was chief economist at Goldman Sachs – a position he left in 2013 to become a minister in David Cameron’s government. He later introduced the concept of MINT, or Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey, countries which, while not as populous as the BRIC group, nevertheless were of a considerable size. And then there are all the lesser fish in Africa, the Far East and the Middle East, South America and even Europe. So, emerging markets cover a diversity of nations with widely differing economic drivers. Arguably many of those included in the terminology might reasonably be considered now as part of the developed world.

Is China, now the second largest economy in the world and probably due to take the top spot before too long, really a lesser developed market? Dr Mobius appears to think so and so do the MSCI index compilers. And what about those termed Frontier Markets? There are 29 in the MSCI universe, many of which feature in emerging markets funds. Taking this last group, Nigeria and South Africa feature here, alongside more obvious candidates as Vietnam, Argentina, Kenya and Romania. If this gives any sort of steer, it is that those advisers tasked with selecting funds in these regions need to take particular care to consider in detail how the underlying portfolio is managed when they are carrying out research and due diligence activities. That there is value amongst shares quoted on emerging markets’ exchanges is clear. That risks are involved is a given. And the funds that are available – and there are many – will be run to different philosophies and embrace many diverse approaches. Don’t discount including exposure to emerging markets for your more adventurous clients by any means, but don’t underestimate the task of choosing which approach, or combination of approaches, is most appropriate.


E D'S RANT May 2018

Forgotten Friend Japan’s economic disappointment has coincided with a difficult period in its relationship with Washington, says Michael Wilson. Worse luck….


In a year when Donald Trump’s threatened trade wars are churning up the familiar assumptions in so many Asian investors’ minds, it seems almost impolite to ask whether Japan, a fully paid-up member of the Western world, could ever become embroiled in the US president’s rantings about dirty trade dealing from other Asia Pacific countries? But this is an unpredictable president, and the question is necessarily out there. The Prez has already landed two significant and humiliating blows against his Japanese partners, and it would be no more than realistic to ask what might come next.

Now don’t run away with the idea that Mr Trump is about to dump your clients’ Japanese portfolios into the mire, because Japan’s economy – sluggish, ageing, uninventive, but above all huge – is still an enormously important player. Tokyo is still the world’s third largest stock market, with over $5 trillion of assets (compared with $7 trillion in London and more than $20 trillion in the United States), and that isn’t going to go away any time soon. But the speculation about Trump’s intentions have come at a time when the Japanese economy itself is going through a sticky patch.

China? Yes, we could understand that the president might have an arguable case for a trade complaint, even if he does simultaneously have to reckon with the likelihood that only Beijing can afford to finance his own government’s spending-andborrowing spree. (All those bonds will have to be sold to somebody….) South Korea? That takes a bit more of a stretch, but ships and steel and textiles seem to account for the grumble. But Japan? America’s faithful ally against the Russian and Chinese threat to the Pacific? Really?

Fiscal fibs The news of the moment is that Japan’s central bank governor Haruhiko Kuroda says he’s preparing to phase out the country’s colossal ($250 to $750 billion a year) quantitative easing programme, well ahead of schedule, because he says that the Japanese economy is now growing strongly, and that unemployment is now so low (2.4%) as to imply that the country’s woes are behind it. Now, we could probably excuse a little hyperbole from a Bank of Japan governor who’s just been reappointed for his second

five-year term of office. But there are more questions about the governor’s claim that private consumption is now growing after decades of stalling, and that wages are now rising fast, just as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Three Arrows” economic plan had proposed. (They’re not.) But the real disappointment is that Japan’s inflation rate is nowhere near the 2% level at which the government has always said it could afford to list the bond repurchasing programme. That’s important because Japan’s thirty-year flirtation with deflation has often been cited as one of the key reasons for the historically slow rate of consumer purchasing growth in Japan. The argument goes that, if a salaryman expects that the price of a new hi-fi will be lower next year, he may well postpone the decision to buy one, and then the people who make hi-fi equipment will be out of a job unless they can export them instead. (To the United States, for instance). So you can see why Mr Kuroda’s failure to push up the inflation rate beyond 1% (but see below) is a cause for concern: whatever else we might say about Japan’s economic growth – see below – it suggests that Shinzo Abe’s Three Arrows are falling short of their mark.

E D'S RANT May 2018

That, unfortunately, is only half the story. As you’ll be aware, these days China and Vietnam and half a dozen other Asian competitors can beat Japan’s own production costs with considerable ease, so the room for a rapid growth in corporate profits is likely to be restricted unless the country can either (a) get the exchange rate down far enough to export more or (b) persuade the Japanese public to buy more homemanufactured goods. But unfortunately Japan is also set for a sharp rise in sales taxes next year, when the levies on retail sales will go up from 8% to 10%. That won’t please the consumers, who were still paying just 5% sales taxes as recently as 2014; indeed, the 10% rate has already been set back twice, having originally been planned for 2015. Three blunted arrows But let’s step back from the doom-mongering for a moment and give credit where it’s due. And let’s give particular credit to the Japanese stock market for a highly satisfactory five-year run– with the Nikkei 225 index rebounding from a late-2012 plateau of just 9,000 to 21,000 in mid-2015 – followed by a rather more bumpy return to 24,000 in early 2018, after a scary flirtation with 15,000 in mid-2016. A fine reward, you’d say, although not one for the faint-hearted. What’s nagging at investors’ nerves now is that volatility since February has been pretty severe. Partly that’s due to the growing general fears about world trade, of course; but also partly down to the

aforementioned stalling of the “Abenomics” programme, which it was Kuroda’s job to push through. In the last month the picture has also been muddied by a nepotism scandal embroiling the PM, which has weakened his political grip and which is widely felt to have blunted the drive of his political reform programme. Broadly, the original aims of the Three Arrows policy were to restore economic growth in three main ways: by issuing a vast quantity of debt from quantitative easing; by spending a huge amount on infrastructure while reducing corporate taxes; and lastly, by getting the inflation rate back up to 2%, partly by forcing employers to redistribute some of their profits through higher wages to their employees. All right, you may have spotted that none of those targets involves increasing corporate investment or profitability, but let’s leave that to one side for the moment. So, as we’ve mentioned, Kuroda’s promise back in 2013 was to end the country’s growth-stunting deflationary worries by pushing inflation up to 2% by 2015. In 2018, alas, the underlying inflation rate is stuck at 0.5%, although it does make 1% according to some people’s measures. More bothersome, though, is that Japan’s underlying economic growth level is running at about 0.8% a year, compared with 2.8% for America, 6.6% for China, and even 1.5% for Britain. Worse was the news that the annualised growth figure for final-quarter 2017 was just 0.5%. Not a great result for a

country where the accumulated government deficit has been swelled by 100% of gross domestic product since the Three Arrows policy started in 2013. That brings it to about 260% of GDP in 2018. Phew. The investment conundrum So would that strike you as a sufficient basis for a trebling of share prices in those same five years? Would you feel better, perhaps, if we told you that private consumption accounted for the equivalent of a 1% growth in final-quarter GDP, but that that rise had been offset to the tune of 0.3% by a decline in residential investment, and by another 0.3% shrinkage from declining inventory levels? It doesn’t set my heart on fire. But maybe I’m missing something? Maybe Japanese companies’ profits are soaring in a way that would justify sharply higher share prices, and maybe they’ll eventually be able to start paying their workforces more, so as to put more spending power out onto the high street? We can certainly hope so. As the spring wage bargaining round got under way, the general level of wage increases was reported to be falling short of Mr Abe’s 3% “target”, but perhaps not significantly so. According to the Financial Times, Nissan has paid its workers another 2.4% this year, Toshiba is paying 2.5% and Hitachi 2.3%. Sharp, however, has offered the full 3% and Toyota 3.3%. Those are all hopeful signs for the consumer economy. Just as long as we accept that Japan’s ageing society is imposing constraints


E D'S RANT May 2018

of its own on the nation’s appetite for whizzy new things; the bond domestic market, by comparison, can be expected to soak up more of the pensioners’ cash with every passing year. Which is probably fortunate, under the circumstances. How does the Tokyo market’s affordability stack up? According to Siblis Research, the Nikkei 225 was trading at a 1.75% yield last autumn, which was certainly an improvement on the 1.34% available in 2014 but still rather tight when compared with London or even New York. (You can probably blame the near-zero inflation and the often negative bond yields for that.) In trailing twelve month terms that amounts to a 1.6% yield, and according to Siblis it represents an average 26 p/e on the overall Tokyo market, or a cyclically adjusted CAPE ratio of more than 28.

The future under Trump? That’s good enough for me, for the time being at least. I’m holding my Japanese investment trusts, which have lost 10% this year, and not adding to them. But maybe we’d better return to the dark and brooding question that we asked at the outset? What bothers me is the possibility that Japan’s relationship with the United States may prove to be the next stage in the deteriorating Trumpian foreign policy saga. It isn’t fashionable to say so, but quite a lot of the accusations that the US president is throwing at Beijing these days could also be directed at Tokyo, if Mr Trump chose to be so rash. In particular, I am troubled by his mistaken idea that America’s trade deficits must inevitably mean that somebody else is cheating, rather than that America needs to either buy less or else correct its trade balance by building more competitive products. Let’s take the trade deficit, for a start. (That is, America’s $70 billion deficit with Japan.)


Bearing in mind what we’ve just said about Trump’s faulty economic logic, we should be in little doubt that what Trump would (erroneously) call currency manipulation is a standard part and parcel of the way that any countries with surpluses are to be viewed? He has, after all, also accused Germany of skewing the value of the euro for its own ends, apparently oblivious to the fact that Frankfurt has no influence or sway on a currency that’s shared with 19 countries and 340 million people…. But anyway. In the absence of a strong domestic consumer market, Japanese export industries do indeed plan their operations with exports in mind, and they tend to cheer when the yen is weak. Forty years ago, Japan did indeed tweak its currency through an informal process known as ‘moral suasion’, but those days have long gone, although there are still some restrictive import tariffs in place. The impact of the weak/strong currency on Japan’s economy may be guessed from the telling fact that the last-quarter slowdown in Japan’s 2017 output (to an annualised 0.7% growth) occurred at the same moment when the US dollar was weakening under the impact of Trump’s enormous borrowing plans, while at the same time the yen was strengthening along with just about every other developed-world currency.

ED'S RANT May 2018

There is, then, something of an awkward balance between Trump’s fiscal policy and everybody else’s growth prospects, and currency strengths are one of the ways that the strains tend to show. (Another is through bond yields.) But, lest we forget, Trump has already delivered two meaningful snubs to Tokyo. The first came back in January 2017, when a newlyinaugurated Trump cancelled America’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), barely hours after swearing solidarity and brotherhood with Prime Minister Abe, who had been his first major international guest in Washington. By the time Abe’s plane landed back home, his country’s hopes of continuing with a deal that covered 800 million people had been dashed by the presidential signature. Not a good start for Trump’s diplomatic record, although hardly the last time that an abrupt U-turn in the White House was to surface. The next, and perhaps more telling, snub came in March this year, when the US president pointedly refused to exempt Japan from the latest round of punitive 25% trade tariffs on steel and aluminium. Unlike allies such as Canada, the UK or even Mexico, Japan was not considered by Washington to be enough of a trade friend to be similarly eligible. And that must have hurt Mr Abe’s pride, even though Japan’s steel exports to the US are only worth

What bothers me is the possibility that Japan’s relationship with the United States may prove to be the next stage in the deteriorating Trumpian foreign policy saga

around $2 billion a year. All that Kobe Steel and Sumitomo and Nippon Steel can console themselves with is the thought that at least a third of these steels are specialist high-quality products of a type which America doesn’t (or can’t) make for itself. Meanwhile, back to the present The awkward question now (to which none of us have any answers) is this: If Japanese steel exports are felt to be inimical to the US interest, some ask, can Japanese cars or electronics be very far behind?

it comes to defending itself militarily against external aggression, most urgently from North Korea but most importantly from China itself. And it’s doubtful whether Japan’s constitutional ban on holding nuclear weapons (originally dictated by America, incidentally) will carry much weight in the way that Washington regards its ties to its allies. This is going to get interesting. And confusing, too.

Well, we know that Trump is inclined to confuse trade and industrial practices with strategic and political interests. We also know that he has accused Japan of being an indolent passenger when



It ain’t what you do… It’s the way that you do it, and that’s what gets results. According to Richard Harvey, it’s the results that really matter





Isn't it great to see the amount of choice we have nowadays? Well, perhaps not. There was a time, for instance, when going for a cup of coffee meant a hot, black beverage, with maybe some sugar and milk. Nowadays, a visit to my local Costa (other coffee shops are available) demands five minutes perusing a list of coffees as long as Magna Carta, most of which I don't understand. I mean, what on earth is a skinny mochachocachino, double shot? Sounds like an underweight Mafia hitman to me. It's the same with telly. I can't contemplate the overkill of choice offered by Sky, so have Freeview instead, and still get a zillion channels when all I really want is BBC, ITV and Channel 4. I don't know what 'Babestation' is, but apparently you can only watch it after I'm tucked up in bed.

Banking on advice Now we have news that high street banks may be poised to re-enter the financial advice market. Media sources have been reporting that new European legislation, the Payment Services Directive (PSD2), will make it easier for banks to target consumers, and get their mitts on the nation's pension pots. Incidentally, if that wasn't enough to have IFAs reaching for the Nurofen, the PSD2 regulation also lumbers advisers with a bunch of new obligations involving client information. And you thought GDPR was a pain in the database. It is possible that some IFAs may have some concerns that Lloyds, NatWest, Santander and Nationwide, which are already talking to the FCA about the regulatory boundaries, will be looking to pinch their clients. After all, they will argue, their financial muscle and High Street presence will mean it’s convenient for customers to move their pensions to the same bank that handles their current and savings accounts. A question of trust That, of course, assumes that people trust banks. You know, those organisations responsible for the financial crash of 2008, earning them an Arthur Daley-esque reputation for financial probity. The same banks which don’t exactly cover themselves in glory by offering any half-decent interest rates on customer deposit accounts. And the very same banks which have so precipitately scarpered from the nation's High Streets,

substituting for real people and service tills with often-inaccessible phone 'helplines' and online banking. (Actually, that's not quite fair. Lloyds have recently shut up shop in my home town, but have been providing a 'mobile bank' - which looks exactly like a horsebox or fish and chip van, but with corporate colours). Go your own way The obvious questions, of course, are not only about whether banks will offer the same 'whole of market' advice offered by most IFAs, or will they be offering restricted advice? It goes much further than that. Will such banks really be able to put client needs first in such a way as to prioritise working towards their goals rather than simply seeing a means to sell products? Now this may be fanciful, but I'd like to think any IFA worth his or her salt will be able to easily combat the blandishments of banks when they do re-enter the advice market with their glossy press ads and slick social media and TV commercials. To my mind, everyone who has pension funds which need looking after will ask three things of their financial adviser. Can I trust you to put my needs first? Will the investments you recommend be suitable for my needs and make a reasonable return? And can I talk to you face-to-face? I would have thought most banks would struggle to answer Yes to at least two of those questions. So keep the faith - and keep your clients. In the field of financial advice and financial planning in particular, things have moved on a lot over the last few years or so. Somehow, I don’t think many advisers will be too concerned about seeing off threats from this new competition, although keeping an eye on developments is key.

PSD2 regulation also lumbers advisers with a bunch of new obligations involving client information. And you thought GDPR was a pain in the database



CAREER OPPORTUNITIES Position: Senior Paraplanner Location: HIGH WYCOMBE Salary: £35,000 - £45,000 Per annum The client: A fantastic opportunity has been created for an experienced paraplanner to join the team at a forward-thinking and wellestablished firm that deal with all aspects of financial planning. They have strong connections with one of the largest accountancy firms in the region and pride themselves on client service and providing a high quality ongoing service. The opportunity: You will be in a paraplanning position with a company that offers exam support and puts an emphasis on personal development and progression. The role will involve working with the other paraplanners within the firm to provide bespoke support to the firm’s financial planners. What’s needed for me to be considered? •

Previous experience within an IFA firm would be preferable.

Level 4 diploma qualified and working towards Chartered status.

Excellent communication skills and attention to detail.

Ambition and drive to progress your career.

Position: Financial Planning Consultant Location: WIGSTON, LEICS Salary: £30,000 - £40,000 Per annum The client: Would you like to work for a growing bespoke firm of Independent Financial Advisers with an excellent reputation for creating impartial financial solutions for both individuals and companies? If so, there is a fantastic opportunity here to for a successful adviser to join a growing business in East Anglia which is independently authorised. The firm has a fantastic industry name, and focuses on providing a complete financial planning service ensuring the client is at the heart of everything they do. The opportunity: As a growing practice, they are looking for a financial planner with a proven track record. You will have the opportunity to service a considerable number of existing clients and provide high quality financial advice in line with the firm’s regulations and expectations. This particular business prides itself on providing unrivalled levels of service and advice to their clients. You will be given the opportunity to build your career with strong support from the firm to work your way through. What’s needed to be considered: •

Level 4 Diploma qualified and keen to progress towards Chartered Status.

Previous experience within a fast-paced IFA practice.

High level of analytical capability and good communication skills.

Excellent client facing skills.

Position: Employed Financial Planner Location: HORSHAM Salary: £35,000 - £40,000 Per annum The client: There is a fantastic opportunity here for a successful IFA to join a well-established and growing practice in the West Sussex area. It’s a growing practice with a great industry name, and which focuses on providing a highly personalised financial planning and investment management service for their clients – whose interests remain at the heart of everything they do. The opportunity: The business seeks financial planner with a proven track record. You will have the opportunity to service a considerable number of existing clients for the practice and provide high quality financial advice in line with the firm’s regulations and expectations. As a Chartered practice, this particular business prides itself on providing unrivalled levels of service and advice to their clients. You will be given the opportunity to build your career and supported by the firm to work your way through further qualifications and develop your professionalism. What’s needed for me to be considered: •

Level 4 Diploma qualified and keen to progress towards Chartered Status.

Previous experience within a fast-paced IFA Practice.

High level of analytical capability and good communication skills.

Excellent client facing skills.

Position: Field Manager of Financial Planning Location: EAST MIDLANDS Salary: £50,000 - £60,000 Per annum The client: This award winning, well-respected IFA practice seeks to build a long term, trusting relationship with their clients by providing a vast range of products and services in order to find a tailored solution for each case. They have multiple offices and are a very well-established business which is expanding quickly. They pride themselves on their professionalism and the quality of the service that they provide. The opportunity: The perfect candidate will be pro-active and forward-thinking as well as technically minded. They will benefit from an excellent package as well as exam support and a rich office culture. It is a fantastic position for an experienced financial adviser to join a growing firm that can offer genuine career development by offering such a broad proposition of technical advice as well as offering exam and study support for candidates looking to further their technical knowledge and qualifications. On top of this, the adviser will be tasked with managing the sales team across the Midlands area, to ensure that highest level of service is being provided to the firm’s clients. What’s needed to be considered: •

Previous experience advising within an IFA firm and a strong track record.

Experience of managing in sales-based environment.

Level 4 diploma qualified and ideally working towards Chartered status.

Good working knowledge of the FCA regulations and other relevant legislation.

Position: Paraplanner/Trainee IFA Location: BEACONSFIELD Salary:£35,000 - £45,000 Per annum The client: The opportunity exists for an experienced paraplanner to join a wealth management practice which provides exceptional training and support. There is scope for the successful candidate to progress to become a fully qualified financial adviser in due course. The opportunity: During a period of expansion, our client is looking for a technical paraplanner to support the successful financial planners of the business. The firm has the flexibility to mould the perfect opportunity around each person’s specific skillset, so the role can be tailored to exactly what you want. You will have the opportunity to work within a supportive team environment where progression is strongly supported. You will be responsible for writing high quality suitability reports for high net worth clients and supporting the provision of a bespoke wealth management service. Responsibilities: •

Level 4 diploma qualified or working towards this.

Previous experience within a fast-paced IFA practice.

High level of analytical capability and good communication skills.

Position: Sales Director Location: NORTH DEVON Salary: NEGOTIABLE The client: An independent insurance brokerage based in the heart of the South West’s rural community, is looking to make a senior appointment. The team prides themselves on being able to provide a unique and tailored service,that ensures their customers are fully covered for any eventuality. The firm provides advice and cover on both commercial and personal lines of insurance. The management team has worked hard to create an outstanding working environment that promotes wellbeing and staff development. The opportunity: This appointment will help with increasing the brand exposure of both its commercial insurance and personal insurance offering within the local and wider national markets. The team have excellent relationships in place with suppliers ensuring that they are able to offer open market solutions. You will develop your own book of commercial business visiting existing clients taking the leads and renewal meetings for the larger premium business. You will also be instrumental in developing staff in terms of their technical and soft skills to prep them for dealing with larger clients and technical risk to ensure the business continue to flourish with the general and niche markets. What’s needed to be considered? •

Previous experience as a senior sales person or manager within an insurance brokerage.

A strong technical understanding of both commercial and personal lines risk.

Position: Compliance Manager Location: CRAWLEY Salary: £30,000 - £40,000 Per annum The client: This is a friendly and lively Wealth Management Practice based in Crawley. They seek a compliance manager to look after the day to day running of their exceptionally talented and diverse client support teams. The opportunity: An exceptional compliance team manager is needed to work closely with the client support director to provide outstanding organisational skill. Great attention to detail is required, as are thoroughness and accuracy and the ability to plan workloads, manage conflicting demands and deadlines, with a keen and flexible attitude. You will be also be responsible for assisting in the development and implementation of the company’s ongoing compliance program to meet regulatory requirements. This will involve policy development, training, monitoring, risk assessment, advising the business on compliance matters and issue remediation. What’s needed for me to be considered: •

Level 4 Diploma qualified.

Good technical experience.

Experience in the review of code of ethics-related compliance matters (i.e. personal account dealing, outside business interests, and gifts, benefits and entertainment).

Clear confident and enthusiastic communicator.

Position: Financial Plannner Location: AMERSHAM Salary: £50,000 - £60,000 Per annum The client: This is a highly reputable IFA firm with a presence that covers the south of England, from the South West to the South East and London. They are now looking for an experienced Financial Planner, ideally from a holistic background to join an office that has a partnership with a leading accountancy firm where the successful candidate will be given clients of high standard to service. The opportunity: You will be the primary Financial Planner responsible for the office and it will be your responsibility to ensure the successful delivery of the agreed business plan. The USP of this role is that the client does NOT require you to bring a book of business to the company so that you can focus on the leads that are provided. The reason for this vacancy is that there are more leads that can be managed with present numbers and so this is a position brought about by business expansion. What’s needed to be considered: •

Currently advising at present, qualified between Level 4 and Chartered Level.

A valid Statement of Professional Standing (SPS);

Further professional qualifications (or working towards) i.e. Pension qualifications including G60, AF3.

Experience of working with cash flow modelling.

Position: Senior Paraplanner Location: WITNEY Salary: £32,000 - £45,000 Per annum The client: This is a wealth management firm in Witney, who seek a paraplanner to join their team. The opportunity: An administrative paraplanner is sought to support the successful financial planners of the business. The firm has the flexibility to mould the perfect opportunity around each person’s specific skill set, so the role can be tailored to exactly what you want. You will have the opportunity to work in a supportive team environment where progression is strongly supported. What’s needed to be considered? •

Comfortable producing technical suitability reports.

Ambition to study towards, or have already achieved the level 4 diploma (advantageous).

Previous experience within a fast-paced IFA practice.

High level of analytical capability and good communication skills (client facing skills).

Position: Compliance Manager Location: STEVENAGE Salary: : £60,000 - £65,000 Per annum The client: This is a strong wealth management practice, which seeks a compliance professional to work within their team. The opportunity: The successful candidate will have outstanding organisational skills, great attention to detail, thoroughness and accuracy and the ability to plan workloads, manage conflicting demands and deadlines, with a keen and flexible attitude and be a clear confident and enthusiastic communicator What’s needed to be considered: •

Level 4 Diploma Qualified.

Good technical experience.

Experience in the review of code of ethics related compliance matters (i.e. personal account dealing, outside business interests, and gifts, benefits and entertainment).

And also… If these specific vacancies are not exactly what you are looking for, please contact us to discuss other opportunities we may be recruiting for that aren’t necessarily advertised. Additionally, refer a friend or colleague to us and receive £200 in vouchers if we assist them in securing a new career.

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Using Technology in Financial Planning | IFA 68 | May 2018