Mike Squire, Investment Director explains how FE Invest has enabled Tom French & Associates to deliver an investment proposition across the Group, which is available to all their clients and to do so at a cost which is acceptable to the client with a smaller portfolio as well as to clients with larger portfolios who expect a much more personalised service. FE Invest has also allowed the firm to streamline service to clients and make sure it meets the compliance requirements of the FCA.
Tom French & Associates (TFA) is a West-Country based group of 33 independent financial advisers (IFAs), of whom 23 are investment advisers, principally offering advisory fund management services.
Until recently, these 23 advisers were following guidance issued by the Investment Committee in terms of researching, constructing and managing investment portfolios for their clients. They were supported by a variety of systems in making their recommendations to clients. The guidance issued by the Investment Committee also meant they spent a lot of time researching funds and fund houses, which meant there was duplication of resources.
A common approach
At the beginning of 2015 the decision was taken to review the investment process to make sure the current solutions and proposition were fit for purpose. As part of that review the Investment Committee, which already had licences for FE Analytics, looked to see what the added benefits would be if all of the investment advisers were given their own FE Analytics licence. Following a trial to the Investment Committee in January, TFA selected FE Analytics as their research tool of choice, supporting also the repeatable and compliant processes required by the FCA. In addition this gave TFA access to FE Invest, which could also be used as part of the integrated client proposition. This was rolled out to all 23 investment advisers from March.
FE Invest was built to run from FE Analytics and to drive the investment process - from capturing clients’ attitudes to risk, through risk profiling and the production of recommended portfolios appropriate to those profiles. It also provides comprehensive ‘white-label’ client reporting, which can be produced quickly and easily - and can be presented under the TFA brand.
Prior to selecting FE Analytics and FE Invest other products were examined but the firm felt that the combination of FE Analytics and FE Invest demonstrated the best research in the marketplace and, according to Theresa Atal, TFA’s Compliance Director, “it did what it said on the tin”.
A further benefit was that of all the options they examined, FE Analytics in conjunction with FE Invest was the only one that offered a time-weighted performance assessment which for TFA’s clients is an important factor. “When you consider that the performance of equities over five years compared to that over say 15 years can be very different, we need as a firm to make sure any investment solution fits in well with our clients’ objectives and the investment time horizon,” says Mike, who also appreciates FE Invest’s whole of market coverage. “Some sources may be related to specific products which can skew things for clients,” he adds.