The Challenge of Due Diligence 

Every time ValidPath runs its CPD Events, I arrive with the sincere intention of creating a photographic record of the highlights, such is the quality of the interaction between our Members, and also with the attending speakers.  One routinely hears of the joyless experiences of adviser delegates required to attend some of our competitors' sausage-machine interpretations of training and development.  Whilst it's important to avoid the dangers that arise out of complacency - and at ValidPath, we're continually on the lookout for better ways of delivering effective support - I am always encouraged by the positive buzz, the degree of constructive engagement, and the real friendships that have developed between professionals that have been with us over many years.

And so, as I returned from our 4th December CPD Event in Oxford, I reflected on the fact that yet again I had no photos of what went on.  The presentations were so interesting, the kinds of questions raised so stimulating, and the conversations so helpful that there was really no opportunity to whip the camera out.  Or, at least, everything was so absorbing that I completely forgot about such matters!

Yesterday, our focus was on VCTs, EIS, AIM portfolios and on the associated areas of financial planning which are so important for certain clients.  At ValidPath, partly at least due to our commitment to genuinely independent advice, we have sought to encourage our Members' involvement in these areas of planning, subject to an excellent advice process.  There was certainly no shortage of material, guidance and fresh ideas from the seven specialist product-providers that Gill Cardy had arranged to speak to us.

It seems to us at ValidPath, that such an event, where professional advisers get to interact with product-providers and ask searching questions about the products themselves, has enormous value.  One can gain helpful insights not just into the products themselves, but also the kind of philosophy or ethos underpinning their design, the degree of rigour surrounding the financial structures, and the extent to which providers do actually understand the markets that they invest in.  Of course, such factors are only a part of the due-diligence puzzle.

All ValidPath Members have access to the full-functionality of DeFaqto Engage, which covers the broadest spectrum of regulated financial products.  Unfortunately, there are no comparable, integrated solutions when it comes to research focusing on VCTs, EIS, SEIS, AIM portfolios and the like.  We are doing our best to foster a collaborative working environment which supports IFAs in delivering well-researched, proportionate solutions in this more demanding area of planning.  A first step has been a substantial addition to our existing Suitability Guidance, available only to logged-in ValidPath Members.

Kevin Moss, 05/12/2014