Occasionally, when I am not working through the detail of the RMAR, or responding to the apparently endless stream of FCA thematic reviews, or implementing the requirements of the FCA's monolithic Arch Cru Redress scheme, or managing the deluge of opportunistic complaints (mostly spurious PPI ones) occasioned by the UK's welfare culture of opportunism, I like to grab a few minutes to actually do some work for a client. No, really.
This comes as something of a welcome relief from all of that pointless bureaucracy, and I have enough residual optimism to think that I can make a genuine difference to those people who need the kind of help that I can provide. In my world, you have to grab your opportunity for this kind of productive work, because you never know when the next pressing regulatory deadline isn't going to heave portentously into view and make strident demands in a kind of imperious, non-negotiable way. Sometimes, it seems that regulation is like the little yappy dog you bought as a puppy, which grew up into something resembling an elephant on steroids, and likes to sit on your lap whilst you attempt to work. And, boy, does it have an appetite.
That being the case, I've had to make strategic decisions about how I will actually discharge my responsibilities, and that means using intelligent systems to help make sense of the data. A year or so ago, I took out a licence to O&M Systems Investment Profiler
package, which I have found a very cost-effective, and intuitive tool for modeling clients' legacy investments, and for demonstrating the comparative value of my recommendations. O&M have steadily improved it since launch, adding Investment Trusts and ETFs to the asset-classes and, I have to say, I have found it a real boon. The 'Rebalancing Report' is a particularly useful tool to help fraught IFAs grapple with the challenge of migrating existing, legacy assets onto a suitable and relevant asset allocation model, as suggested by your risk-profiler of choice.
Does it do 'enough'? In my opinion it does. I'm no stock-picker or crystal-ball-gazer. My aim is to take a basket of investment assets and make sense of them in toto
, and that's what this package does so excellently. I'm pretty sure that Morningstar would do a lot more for me, but then it costs five times as much, and would my clients actually want
reports that you could paper the House of Commons debating chamber with? When a new client comes to me, with that hallmark Asda bag full of contract notes, and asks (anxiously) "But what does it all mean?", then this gives me the means to provide an informed, careful and...er...well-documented
answer to that kind of question. And it provides me with an invaluable reporting tool at annual review time
Recently, O&M Systems upgraded their old 'Pension Profiler' package into a much more effective suite of analytical tools, and these combine seamlessly with 'Investment Profiler'. I cannot say that I am yet up to speed with the pensions module, but this does now seem to be, overall, a highly functional and efficient way for IFAs to conduct their analysis, make sense of 'stuff', and document their work with great precision. For firms and advisers which wish to utilise model portfolios within the context of their own Centralised Investment Proposition, I cannot see how one could deliver such a service with sufficient underlying due diligence, without utilising this kind of resource.