Companies  

Diary of adviser: Paul Barnard

Monday

The morning starts by reviewing the tasks that have come up for review on Outlook, checking that what I have asked Transact to do has been carried out (and that is invariably the case), and also to see what else needs to be done on our clients’ portfolios. I have two new investment reports to finish off for new clients who have come to us following retail distribution review and their previous advisers either having been a bank or a small independent that is no longer trading.

When we formed Asset Investment Management in 2007, we structured ourselves differently to most companies. My colleague really enjoys the face-to-face interaction with our clients, whereas I prefer to concentrate on the technical, report writing and compliance aspects of the business. In this way, effectively each client gets ‘two advisers’, and we never have any conflict or disagreement on whose client is whose – they are all clients of the company.

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Tuesday

The reports have been finished and sent to my co-director to meet the clients for the presentation. Following the FCA paper on disclosure of charges as cash examples, we are discussing our charging and service proposition model. Unfortunately, as an industry, we seem to be moving to a situation where everyone will know the cost of something, but not its value. I think we are fortunate, as we adopted an RDR-friendly structure well before it was rolled out by the regulator, and all our clients know exactly what they are charged and what they get in return. Nonetheless, a reminder incorporated into their bi-annual reviews will only reinforce this and provide evidence should the FCA come calling.

I consider some changes that I want to make on our websites to reflect both this and other forthcoming changes to practices.

We have to catch the 2.30pm train from Norwich to London as we have been invited to attend the Aberdeen Platform Awards ceremony at the Marriott hotel in Grosvenor Square. I remember the name of Grosvenor Square from watching student protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and agreeing with them – now I am getting dressed for a black-tie event.

Wednesday

A welcome hotel breakfast after the inevitable early morning “celebrations”. The platform awards were well attended and hosted by Kate Silverton. It was a pity that so many in attendance could not actually keep quiet during the ceremony and presentation, and she was constantly battling against the hubbub. A very poor display of manners and one that I cannot help thinking that Brian Blessed (who spoke at the Citywire awards in January) would have quelled.

It was interesting to see the number of platforms represented, together with platform service and software providers. Among them were some of the older-style platforms, for which the move to clean share classes is proving a challenge. Of course, fund rebates are banned, but some will now negotiate ‘super-clean’ share classes. As an advisory community, we cannot berate various government ministers for assuming that cheapest is best when some platforms with appalling service records try to woo us by costing less. Again, they know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.