How are platforms boosting adviser engagement?

This article is part of
Guide to using investment trusts in client portfolios

He expects Aegon, which acquired Cofunds in 2017, to make investment companies available to former Cofunds customers soon. 

But Mr Britton highlights other barriers to advisers using investment companies in client portfolios. 

He cites a report written in 2018 by consultancy firm The Lang Cat, which identifies a structural bias towards using open-ended funds in discretionary fund managers’ multi-asset portfolios that advisers rely on. 

How to increase adviser engagement 

So are the issues associated with platforms the only barrier to the uptake of investment trusts among advisers? 

Tim Morris, financial adviser at Russell and Co Financial Advisers, says: “I don’t recommend that many [investment trusts to clients].

"The reason being, the costs compared to some passive funds out there nowadays means you can be looking at an ongoing cost differential close to 1 per cent per annum.”

Mr Britton notes: “Many financial advisers are less familiar with investment companies and lack confidence in recommending them.

"Some of investment companies’ features, like gearing, discounts and premiums, and the fact that investment companies are market traded, can be unfamiliar.”

Mr Budden reiterates this point: “Some deep-rooted concerns and prejudices exist around investment trusts. They are seen as more risky because they can plough money and there is a lack of understanding around premium and discount levels."

Mr Budden adds: “If markets are going down, investment trusts are at a premium. Paying something above the NAV is something that can worry people.”

The AIC continues to offer free training to financial advisers and wealth managers on investment trusts to understand key concepts, such as NAV and gearing.

Mr Britton says: “The AIC is running 15 adviser training workshops around the country in May and June and there are six investment company training courses up on the AIC website.

"All of the AIC’s training is free of charge and is accredited by professional bodies, such as the CII and CISI.”

But for Mr Budden, distribution is the key issue.

"Investment trusts are not available across all intermediaries’ platforms. They are available on platforms that can take direct equity investment. If you do not have that facility you cannot hold an investment trust,” he warns. 

He adds that it is vital for every platform to offer investment trusts in order for the sector to grow further.