Death of the DFM

“The DFM sector is over-crowded and the old style ‘bespoke’ DFM model is looking decidedly old-fashioned and past its sell-by date.” This quote from Mike Roberts, Managing Director and Head of Innovation, PortfolioMetrix UK this week appeared in Investment Adviser’s focus on DFMs and may well have raised a few eyebrows as a result.

PortfolioMetrix is often referred to as a DFM but we regard this label as rather too generic and often misleading. We prefer to be described as a discretionary investment manager, because managing investments to a mandate agreed with the clients of our adviser partners is what we are all about.

PortfolioMetrix about as far away from the old-fashioned ‘bespoke’ DFM model that Mike refers to in his quote as it’s possible to get, yet what we deliver is pretty much the same as the service they promise. There’s no deep pile carpet or walnut drinks cabinets in our office, or price tags attached to our service to pay for such opulence but there are bespoke investment portfolios that are crafted to meet specific client requirements.

As Mike says in the article, it’s not just the cost of the old-style DFM that rankles advisers: often what they deliver is mediocre and the portfolios they describe as ‘bespoke’ (and which carry the hefty price tag) often look very similar to the standard model portfolios they offer at reduced costs.

Having to hand clients over to a third party for a ‘personal’ investment service is also a bugbear for advisers who would rather provide a service that keeps them front and centre as the custodian of the client’s financial plan. This has led to some advisers opting to run the investment side alone which, while sometimes adequate, is always time-consuming and costly in terms of how much focus it takes at the expense of broader financial planning.

Finding solutions to these thorny problems was where PortfolioMetrix started and it’s good to hear from our adviser partners that what we’re doing is helping them run efficient businesses with happy clients. A quick glance at our website and the video testimonies it features makes the point far better than I ever could.