Impacts of a changing world…insights from our Investor Forum

Getting together with our adviser and paraplanner partners for our Investor Forum is an annual event and this year, for obvious reasons, we had to rely on technology to get us all in the same ‘room’.

Perhaps because we’ve all become accustomed to virtual meetings, it was good to see attendance was up by around a fifth on last year. While I firmly believe nothing beats meeting in person, there’s no denying that technology delivers convenience. What is lost in networking opportunities is gained in time efficiency.

The event covered a lot of ground, including market trends, investment performance, fees and responsible investing. Six key trends were identified by the team through informal research with our partners before the event. These are:

  • The challenges involved for advisers with recruiting new clients to firms during the Covid-19 restrictions
  • Decumulation
  • Relentless regulation: MiFID II and PROD and soon to be SMCR and ESG
  • PI insurance premium hikes
  • Consolidation and succession planning
  • ESG

Our Head of Investment, Nic Spicer, was kept busy answering a range of questions around investment styles, fees and ESG investing.

He outlined our plans to help advisers and end clients understand how fees are structured and reported. He flagged that some discretionary managers are not stating all the fees they should, so it’s incredibly hard to compare like-with-like – something PortfolioMetrix will help with in the near future.

Nic also fielded a lot of questions about ESG. With three and a half years of performance data for our ethical/responsible investing portfolios, PortfolioMetrix looks like a veteran in the field. Performance of ESG funds has certainly been good this year (and our Sustainable World portfolios are no exception) but Nic also outlined some of the complexities to be aware of and why it’s a good idea for advisers to get fully informed by downloading our whitepaper “ESG in Investing: everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask”.

Judging by the questions, it seems ESG is a topic that is gaining traction with advisers. This is just as well, as EU regulation (that will be adopted by the UK regardless of Brexit) will force all advisers to put this top of their agenda in early 2021.

Another hot topic was around PI insurance and DB transfers – something that I’ve had a number of discussions about with advisers following the forum.

General feedback I’ve had about the forum has been that the content hit the right mark and making it an online, virtual event meant it was really easy to attend. As a result, we plan to hold more than one next year, with a mix of streamed online and – pandemic permitting – people attending in person.

I was particularly pleased that representatives from all our new partner firms attended, including our three most recent partners, who have all joined since lock down started so are already well accustomed to interacting with us virtually!