Advisers’ five most popular discretionaries

As the RDR implementation date draws closer, IFAs are increasingly starting to outsource some of their investment duties.

When it comes to DFM relationships, advisers are becoming increasingly concerned with the quality of service and the cost, as well as the flexibility of the DFM and the ability to forge a long term relationship.

Over the coming weeks, Investment Adviser will be profiling DFMs across the country, but here is a snapshot of the top five most used according to the results of the Defaqto survey.

Brewin Dolphin

Brewin Dolphin has a long history, dating back to 1762, when it was established by John Dawes as a stockbroking firm. The group as a whole manages more than £25bn of funds for upwards of 130,000 private clients. Of this, £17.3bn is run on a discretionary basis. It has no ties to fund managers, banks or financial institutions which means it can search whole of market when investing for clients.


Parmenion offers platform-like capabilities and is also a DFM, but it mostly builds specific investment solutions for IFA practices. The company was founded in May 2007 by a core team led by managing director Richard Mein that came from across from Rowan, where it worked with both IFAs and discretionary management firms. Parmenion offers a DFM service with its own in-house investment management team – Parmenion Fund Research – but it has also opened the platform up to other investment managers.


Quilter offers bespoke investment management for private clients, trusts, charities and pension funds. As at June 30 2012, it had approximately £7.9bn of funds under management – a 30 per cent increase on June 2007. The firm regained its independence in April 2012, having previously been owned by Morgan Stanley. It is now owned by the management and European private equity firm Bridgepoint.

Brooks Macdonald

Founded in 1991, Brooks Macdonald Group manages more than £3.5bn and describes itself as a a specialist investment house providing bespoke investment management on a discretionary basis for private clients, trusts, charities and pension funds (including Sipps). The minimum investment for the bespoke discretionary service is £250,000.

Standard Life Wealth

The discretionary fund management arm of Standard Life has been building its presence in the IFA market. According to the group’s results for the first six months of 2012, Standard Life Wealth saw £390m in net flows into its higher margin propositions. For each client, Standard Life Wealth sets up a series of investment portfolios, matching the appropriate timescales and risk profile for each financial goal and manages volatility through asset allocation, regularly adjusting each portfolio to respond to changing market conditions and clients’ changing needs.