Financial Adviser Service Awards 

Investments: 5-star providers

Investments: 5-star providers

A rundown of our five-star winners and key activities and upcoming plans behind their success.

Architas

Key activities

  1. Have run CPD events at smaller venues across the country to make it easier for advisers to attend.
  2. Produced relevant, interesting and simple content.
  3. Produced quarterly review of the markets as well as response to topical events, such as the EU referendum or the UK general election.
  4. Advisers have welcomed speed of response.
  5. Funds have continued to deliver in line with their objectives.

Upcoming plans

  1. Make content available on a newly launched website that will make it easier for advisers to find information.
  2. New digital tools to help advisers with their client conversations.
  3. Launch of a new research programme with advisers and clients.
  4. More high level of activity.
  5. Provide more educational and support materials.

Sarah Ackland, head of UK funds, Architas, said: “We’ve created a range of diversified funds where the advantages to advisers and their clients are simple to understand; from active, passive and blended risk profiled funds, to income generating as well as specialist funds.

“To receive this excellent level of recognition from advisers is a great endorsement of the partnership we have built with advisers to help meet the needs of their clients.”

 

Brooks Macdonald

Key activities

  1. Hosted 11 CPD-eligible ‘Adviser Academies’ for professional advisers with high-profile industry speakers.
  2. Undertook large internal research project to ensure improvements and hired CRM support consultant to help advisers maximise the use of CRM systems and ensure they are able to connect data feeds as efficiently as possible.
  3. Commissioned independent white paper for advisers on how they can maximise use of technology to improve efficiencies.
  4. New Cardiff office opened to fit in with local support provision strategy.
  5. Produced articles on MiFiD II to help advisers.

Upcoming activities

  1. Maintain focus of partnering with professional advisers.
  2. Extensive investment in compliance and risk.
  3. Continue educational events for advisers and clients.
  4. Maintain investment in technology. Recent examples include a proposal tool generator for its Managed Portfolio Service.
  5. Continued recruitment of top-quality staff.

Nick Holmes, managing director at Brooks Macdonald, said: "We were delighted to pass through the £10bn milestone in assets under management in the second quarter of the year, and Caroline Connellan joined as chief executive in April, already making a fantastic contribution."  

 

Octopus Group

Key activities

  1. Invested in growing distribution team to increase the level of engagement with advisers across the country, working with them to design and deliver the best solutions to their clients and professional connections.  
  2. Adviser feedback through business development teams and by frequent surveys and roundtables. Senior management also regularly meet with advisers.
  3. Assist advisers with their own learning and development through educational content and training programmes, both online and in person.
  4. Investment in employee training.

Upcoming plans

  1. Continued investment in distribution, both in people and tools.
  2. Improving the portal through which advisers can manage their clients’ investments as a result of feedback.
  3. Further creation of new solutions for advisers to help meet their requirements.
  4. Feature updates to new product lines, including allowing Isa transfers for Octopus Choice along with a new iOS app.
  5. Potential additional ‘out-of-hours’ support for advisers and paraplanners.  
  6. Continuing to look for ways to improve the customer experience for advisers.

 Simon Rogerson, chief executive of Octopus Investments, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the company’s achievements, not just from an inflows perspective but in terms of adviser supporter numbers. Financial advisers are the lifeblood of our business, which is why the recognition from them for the service we aim to provide means so much.”

 

Canada Life

Key activities

  1. Canada Life has upgraded underwriting engine to quote for enhanced annuities online via portals and developed a 'simpler' underwriting process for DGT cases.
  2. Improved transfers out for pensions and investments. 
  3. Reduction in the average time it takes to turn around customer communications down to three days from five days.
  4. Transforming customer service through customer surveys and plain English training.
  5. Targeted staff training by focus on the causes of issues.

Upcoming plans

  1. Improving processes. For example, focusing on delivering a better solution for dealing with death claims.
  2. Tracing pension customers to make them aware they have a policy.
  3. Better communications for schemes winding-down.
  4. Reducing transfer times.
  5. Rewards programme that encourages and rewards staff members for finding ways to improve the customer experience.

Richard Priestley, executive director at Canada Life, said: "We have continued to improve our processes for customers and advisers to support our aim of being easy to do business with. As a result we have delivered improved turnaround times and consistently met our service charter targets.

"The strong service and product offering has helped the investment business grow over 2017 and positions us well to continue this growth in future."

 

Parmenion

Key activities

  1. More than 30 digital upgrades have taken place during the past 12 months, improving the user experience of the adviser site.
  2. Doubled number of IT, investment management and client-facing employees to meet demands.
  3. Dedicated team of specialists working on implementing key changes to improve transparency and client experience while supporting advisers through the changing regulatory landscape.
  4. Launched employee trainee programmes to focus on technical and service skills.
  5. Conducted educational roadshows and CPD-accredited training.

Upcoming plans

  1. Rolling-out more advanced programme of system developments alongside existing upgrade regime.
  2. Investment in new delivery processes.
  3. Launch of security system to protect adviser businesses.
  4. Investing in new adviser/client solutions.
  5. Recruiting talent and ensuring they are MiFID II compliant.

Richard Goodall, distribution and marketing director, said: "We are delighted with securing our fifth five-star award and the recognition this gives to the hard work and dedication of our employees.

"At the heart of our business are our customers, their clients and our employees who provide our integrated proposition of investment, platform service and technology."

 

Russell Investments

Key activities

  1. Development of interactive online tools, such as the cashflow forecasting tool. The tools are built to support conversations, better understand client objectives and reinforce key insights into investing wisely.
  2. Relaunched website including the brand new Adviser Acumen page – a one-stop shop for market insights, investment ideas and industry articles.  
  3. Continuous professional development (CPD).
  4. To help ensure businesses prepare for upcoming market changes Russell Investments has hosted various modules covering MiFiD II and rising fees.
  5. Ongoing monthly client-facing servicing packs are produced for all funds rather than just factsheets – reflecting the ongoing work done by advisers.

Upcoming plans

  1. Website changes to improve navigation and usability. It is also undergoing a new client-facing build.
  2. Deliver tailored macro content to advisers via the Adviser Acumen webpage, the Adviser Connect blog and monthly emails.
  3. New videos launching in 2018 to keep adviser resources up-to-date with the latest technological trends and device-suitability.
  4. 2018 will be themed around helping advisers understand the risk and return if a market correction were to occur.

Mark Hayhoe, investment specialist, said: "At Russell Investments, we like to say to our advisers, ‘Your goal is our goal'. That’s why we are proud of the relationships we maintain and the support that we continue to offer to our advisers."

 

Quilter Cheviot

Key activities

  1. Website has been completely revamped to make it easier to navigate.
  2. Added significantly to adviser-focused literature to provide a comprehensive library of sales aids and guides. Also launched a number of subscription services, encouraging advisers to use the content in their own newsletters.
  3. Organised and hosted two nationwide series of roadshows focused on the adviser community. Over 1,750 advisers were engaged.
  4. Quilter Cheviot partnered with four DFMs to create the DFM alliance, to continue rolling out initiatives that offer financial advisers a platform for improving client outcomes.
  5. Partnered with Flagstone to provide clients with access to its cash-management platform.

Upcoming plans

  1. Providing bespoke solutions to every client.
  2. Continue with adviser engagement, through adviser-focused events and seminars, and regular adviser communications.
  3. Will introduce dedicated paraplanner events and also run a whole series of dementia training seminars, helping advisers in an area that currently presents them with difficulties.
  4. Will continue to enhance marketing material and literature regarding MiFiD II and the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to support advisers in their conversations with current and prospective clients. 

Scott Stevens, head of business development, said: "A number of new services and initiatives have been launched this year, which we believe will broaden the range of investment solutions we can offer to adviser firms."

   

Rathbones

Key activities

  1. Launched the Rathbone Managed Portfolio Service, initially for clients of financial advisers. This service consists of six actively managed strategies designed to preserve and grow client wealth over the long term.
  2. Commissioned research to conduct some polling with clients to understand the value of its outsourcing services.
  3. Launched its Private Office division, which provides independent advice and individual wealth management for clients with ‘complex’ wealth.
  4. Rathbones has revised and republished its 'Understanding Investment Risk and Return' brochure.
  5. Working with Oxford Risk, Rathbones is rolling out a proprietary questionnaire to existing clients.

Upcoming plans

  1. Continuing to roll out process of using the ‘Attitude to Risk' questionnaire for its existing clients.
  2. Rathbones is redesigning its Know Your Customer forms, which are used to engage with clients. The client information form will be used to capture and refresh hard factual information about the client.
  3. Rathbones said it will continue to focus on improving its client experience and striving for greater operational efficiency. It will also spend an additional £1m in 2017 to implement a new client relationship management system and improve its client take on processes.

James Goward, head of sales support, said: "We continue to focus on improving our client experience and striving for greater operational efficiency in our support functions with the aim of creating additional capacity for growth."