Today, the most valuable aspect of a financial adviser’s role to the end client is in giving face-to-face advice. But it can be challenging for advisers to devote time to this while also managing clients’ money.
The Blackfinch Wealth Managed Portfolio Service (MPS) has been developed to enable advisers to focus on their clients. How does it stand out in a crowded space and continue to promote its unique approach, while supporting advisers and their clients?
We spoke to Alex Sumner, Portfolio Manager at Blackfinch Wealth, also recently featured in Citywire Wealth Manager’s ‘Top 30 under 30’, about the launch of the MPS and its philosophy.
Gareth Deacon and I both moved over to Blackfinch in February 2018 and launched the MPS in July of last year. One of the main reasons I joined Blackfinch is because I wanted to focus on the service to the adviser as well as the end client, and Blackfinch presented us with that opportunity.
Blackfinch already recognised the importance of working alongside advisers, listening to their feedback and building propositions with them in mind. Advisers are our clients. We don’t accept clients directly into the MPS as we truly support and promote the value of holistic financial advice.
Why this approach?
During my prior role in the stock-broking industry, I noticed the significant shift in clients speaking directly to financial advisers rather than stock-brokers. It was clear that adviser roles were developing in this way, as prompt, independent advice became the key requirement for clients.
When Gareth and I joined Blackfinch we were given the opportunity to build something from scratch. We were able to take our skills and experiences from our previous employer and build a service that we have shaped in conjunction with financial planning firms. Watching it grow in popularity has been very rewarding.
What makes you stand out from the crowd?
The MPS market is a very competitive space with an extensive number of services available for advisers to choose from. When Gareth and I sat down and considered the concept of our MPS, we knew we had to create something which was exceptionally different from our competitors.
We are always looking to constantly innovate, evolve and build our proposition, but what sets us apart is our collaboration with advisers. We offer a polished library of dual-branded reporting tools, from factsheets and quarterly updates, to video content and co-hosted event opportunities. We’re continuously working to put advisers at the forefront of the advice process and give them additional resources to market their own businesses.
We like to ask advisers, “What’s truly useful to you?” and “What do you want to see?”. Then we work to adapt to their needs and requirements.
On a day-to-day basis, where can we find the Blackfinch Wealth team?
Our days are fairly varied, with a mixture of time spent at the Gloucester HQ, as well as in fund manager and investment committee meetings. We also spend time visiting advisers, developing strong relationships and providing ongoing support. Gareth and I are of course also focus daily on doing research and development. We are active managers of the five risk-rated funds underlying the MPS. We check the pre-market reports, run data reports and analyse the performance of our investments constantly. We follow a robust, centralised investment process.
We also actively encourage firms to visit us at the Blackfinch HQ for a deep dive into the investment process. We work closely with the in-house business development team, making sure we’re on hand to answer any queries and/or speak with advisers.
We don’t have contact with the end client, and we work exclusively with advisers. It’s really important to us that advisers know that we want them to be at the forefront of the whole process. We believe advisers should always remain the experts in their clients, while we are the experts in investment management.
What are you working on at the moment?
Our current project is what we define as a true decumulation strategy.
Advisers have told us that there are increasing numbers of clients who cannot live off the natural yield produced by their pension pots. We therefore want to address this client type and offer a solution that truly decumulates over the lifecycle of the investment. As with our flagship MPS, we are currently taking advantage of feedback from our focus group of advisers who are helping us to shape the proposition.
What does it mean to you to be featured in Citywire’s ‘Top 30 under 30’, and for the second time?
For me, this is an excellent way of recognising what people can achieve in the first decades of their career when they’re passionate about working in financial services and want to make a difference.
As an annual review, it gives the upcoming generation support and encouragement to continue working hard in the sector and to really push to reach their goals. It can also inspire others who might be aiming to work in the industry. I’m keen on getting young people interested and involved in financial services.
It’s a privilege to be featured and great to be recognised in such a competitive and growing sector.
For more information on the Blackfinch Wealth Managed Portfolio Service, visit Blackfinch.com/wealth