Barwells Wealth has two financial advisers and approximately £110m in assets under management. We are a private client firm, offering advice on pensions and investments. We use three investment platforms – FundsNetwork, Nucleus and AJ Bell.
We first started using Dynamic Planner in 2014. The firm went through a due diligence process, looking at the functionality and usability of the different offerings. We concluded that Dynamic Planner was the easiest to use and, most importantly, the most intuitive, because we would be using it in front of the client. At Barwells, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other firms and advisers. It’s a very good piece of kit.
Dynamic Planner plays an integral part in our first meeting with clients. The iPad app is great. We typically use it with a client interactively. We like the way you can produce an outcome in real-time and then prompt questions around that outcome. You can then show the client the different risk profiles and different asset allocations, which is a great way of starting a discussion.
Equally, if a client comes across to us from another firm with existing investments you can compare the risk profile of their current portfolio against the risk profile of what investments you are proposing. Dynamic Planner is used in our back office as well in that scenario for product recommendations.
In the past when it came to client risk profiling, there was always a danger that the adviser very much led that conversation. An adviser might have made a snap decision that a client was cautious or that a client was adventurous, for example, and subsequently steered them down that particular path. Having a modelling process like Dynamic Planner really allows the client to drive decision-making much more.
It allows you to frame your advice to clients in ways that they can understand. The 1-10 Risk Profile scale is also easy to understand. There can be a danger that clients naturally head to the middle of the risk scale, but by allowing Dynamic Planner to encourage engagement with the client in a discussion, the client can take and feel some ownership of the process, rather than us as advisers saying, ‘I think you’re a balanced investor’ and the client replying, ‘What does that actually mean?’
I think it’s important clients are invested emotionally in the process. I have been working in this industry for 18 years and when I started financial advice was still very much a sales job. You were selling a product to somebody – but it has evolved, and it is important that clients today understand the mechanics of what is happening to their money.
In terms of efficiency, Dynamic Planner’s iPad app really helps. It’s a ‘one and done’ job: you get the questionnaire answers; you can produce a report; you can print the report; and the client can walk away with it from a meeting. That’s sped up our process considerably. Ensuring the client leaves with something tangible like a report helps you as an adviser demonstrate value, because they can see what you are doing.
It was a simple, easy process for us to start using Dynamic Planner when we did. We got good support in helping us integrate it with platforms. We were first demonstrated the software over webinars and then completed the buying process by telephone.
We have always had the sense at Barwells that Dynamic Planner is a financial services firm. In this industry, you can get companies which are say asset managers first and platforms second, or vice-versa. They can then, for example, be a great technology company, but not fully understand financial services. With Dynamic Planner, you know that they understand both financial services and technology.
It’s good that, as a user, you receive documents from Dynamic Planner saying that, ‘We are thinking about making these changes. What do you think?’. It’s good to see a technology provider really engaged with the end user – rather than suddenly Dynamic Planner 2.0 is released, everything’s different and you’re sat there thinking, ‘Why did you do that?’