WealthPro is an online valuation and reporting service. It is a back-office system built in-house, which organises workflow, allows advisers to see whose reviews are coming up, generates personalised reports and allows clients to log in and view their investments. It has taken years to build, a process of constant, incremental addition.
Data can be shown to clients in a number of ways, such as by overall exposure to certain funds, or breaking down where particular funds are held, such as in an ISA or pension.
WealthPro also has a compliance function, which prevents advisers from breaking the firm’s house investment rules. The house rule can only be changed if decided on by the directors. For example, if a client’s exposure to one manager exceeds 20%, WealthPro will alert the fact or prevent it.
But over the past few years, WealthPro has also served another function. In 2010 Save & Invest met with a range of custodians, including AJ Bell Securities, previously called Lawshare. ‘It did all its asset dealing in custody for discretionary management firms,’ says Deans. ‘We said: “we want a service, we will pay for it and just back our systems into your systems”.’
In other words, WealthPro does almost everything a platform does apart from custody and dealing (and therefore does not need the Financial Conduct Authority permissions a platform would do). AJ Bell Securities was the most willing to implement a bespoke interface between its internal custody platform (Figaro) and WealthPro. Save & Invest pays AJ Bell Securities for a custody, trading and administration service, which is invoiced to and paid directly by Save & Invest. AJ Bell never charge a fee directly to Save & Invest’s clients.
‘AJ Bell Securities is a London Stock Exchange member so we have total flexibility. Every fund is available, every listed stock market is available and we’re free to use any Sipp,’ Deans says.
‘Mark Polson [principal of consultancy The Lang Cat] came to us and said: “you’ve got what people should need: a back-office system that actually runs a business, communications with clients, helps advisers and links directly into an asset custody service. What are you going to do with it?”’
Polson says: ‘While others debate the practicality of advisers becoming platform operators in their own right, Save & Invest has just got on and done it. The result is it now has a proposition that exactly matches its own processes, rather than trying to make something that is built to accommodate many different models fit.
‘This reduces rework, improves controls and should allow Save & Invest advisers to spend more time on the stuff that really matters.’
WealthPro has allowed Save & Invest to create a progressive fee structure (see box on page 28), but also communicate clearly with clients. ‘We’re a technology and communications company,’ says Deans. ‘The educational aspect of this job is very important to us. We help people make decisions.
‘I worry that those people who are just life planners, who outsource and put everything in trackers to keep costs down, will eventually lose control of their client relationship. And because of Mifid II, their fees will be scrutinised like never before.’