When Neil Holmes, paraplanner at Lovewell Blake, was looking for continuous professional development, he turned to the FE Academy to certify his colleagues' use of FE Analytics as their key research tool. With the firms whole team now FE Analytics certified, he is confident in their ability to justify their investment recommendations to clients.
Lovewell Blake is one of the leading firms of accountants, business advisers and financial planners in East Anglia and has offices in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The firm offers their clients three investment propositions which range from fully bespoke portfolios to a model portfolio service and also risk rated solutions. Neil Holmes says, ‘For all our propositions, we use FE Analytics for the analysis and research we do’.
Lovewell Blake has used FE Analytics for over ten years and Neil finds it particularly important to his role as a paraplanner. At Lovewell Blake a team of three paraplanners carry out what can be regarded as the more technical side of the advisory role. Working alongside an adviser, their job is to provide investment options specific to the client. ‘What we do as paraplanners is to build on what the adviser has learnt from their client and create suitability reports that are extremely personalised to their specific scenario’.
The importance of robust research
Lovewell Blake places great importance on technical fund research to support their propositions.
‘Research on a particular investment was previously carried out offline, which gave us very limited scope for analysis. We were very early adopters of FE Analytics because we wanted something that was a one-stop option for us, and through the years, as we have developed its use in the firm. It has continued to be the go-to for all our analysis and a mainstay in our investment process’
‘Gone are the days where you can look at a past performance graph and make a recommendation. Post the Retail Distribution Review we have come a long way. With the advent of risk rated and model portfolios and even Discretionary Fund Managers there is a much greater need to look at holistic planning for advisers.
‘Being able to position clients where they can feel comfortable that their portfolios are going to remain within their risk tolerance level, is key to us. The tools that we use within FE, provide us with the ability to focus our attention on fund analysis and make an accurate assessment of what the potential outcomes could be to clients in the future.’
The FE Analytics Certification
Neil first heard about the FE Analytics certification at one of FE investment roadshows. ‘We are quite academic at Lovewell Blake and we like to encourage our staff to learn, take exams and gain qualifications, so we immediately felt it would be an appropriate certification for us to adopt - not only as long standing users, but also to implement it as part of our ongoing training plan that we can introduce to new staff’.
Lovewell Blake is the first fully certified firm, with ten members of the team being awarded the FE certification. ‘We want our firm to be presented as an FE Analytics certified firm, where staff are committed to ongoing learning and where we are at the forefront of technology.
For Lovewell Blake the FE Analytics certification is also about having full confidence that their staff can confidently justify their investment recommendations, if they are ever in a position where a client, or the regulator, asks.
‘Our clients vary from those who are very technically minded to those who have a much greater reliance on us to choose the right investments for them. What we want for our staff is for them to be in a position where, if they are asked about the specifics of an investment recommendation, they feel very comfortable giving our clients an explanation. This is where we feel the FE Analytics certification is important.
Relationship with FE
‘Historically we have had a lot of support from FE and it’s been fantastic. We were early adopters and we have been grateful to receive onsite training and seminars. I place as much importance on the FE Analytics certification as I do on my diploma. All our staff study for CII qualifications, and this exam is just as important because it demonstrates to everyone in the firm our ongoing commitment to keeping our staff up to date with market changes.’