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Woods and Partners | Financial Express Case Study


When Ashley Woods joined Woods and Partners in 2013 after working for an international wealth manager, he knew he wanted to continue using FE Analytics every day in his new role.

Woods and Partners are a Melbourne-based boutique financial planning firm established in 1984. As an employee owned and run business, their focus is on independently researched bespoke portfolios and strategies, with an emphasis on stability and responsible management. Ashley is part of a team of four advisers, and undertakes the majority of the research into fund selection at Woods and Partners.

Ashley is part of a team of four advisers, and undertakes the majority of the research into fund selection at Woods and Partners.

Breadth of Australian data

Ashley was impressed to find that FE Analytics had the full range of investments needed for the specific requirements of Woods and Partners.

‘I needed to see that Analytics had the capability to work with all the investments that we’re recommending, and it does, and it does it very well.’

‘We use managed funds but we’re also quite big users of direct equities, ETFs, interest rate securities and hybrids. FE has access to all that information as well. We use the factsheets from Analytics, particularly for equities they’re great- from a compliance perspective and for client communication.’

But would the tool be fine-tuned to the fast-changing distribution landscape of the Australian market? ‘One of the things we’ve noticed is you can filter the universe by whatever investment platform you use, so for example Colonial First Wrap or Macquarie Wrap, so we can limit the universe to that and then do further research within that universe.’

Fund screening and compliance

FE Analytics helps Woods and Partners to conduct and record their research and fund screening process.

Ashley uses the fund filter tool to narrow his field of research. For example, when looking for an international equity fund he will run a search based on the sector, alpha over a number of years and volatility. He can then save the resulting time stamped report for his records.

‘From a compliance perspective, it’s an important part of the process, it helps show that we’ve put into finding or selecting funds, it backs our decisions. We have the research. We use the reports in client files as well as in our investment committees when we’re making decisions.’

Ashley also finds that the easy comparability of funds via Analytics means he doesn’t have to spend time contending with the varied levels of provision in terms of research tools and data from different platforms and providers. ‘Having Analytics has really opened up the depth of our reporting for off-platform, it was a much more time consuming task to track the performance of portfolios previously.’

The solution has made monitoring and tracking fund lists easier for Ashley. ‘We have a list of funds within each sector or asset class, it helps us see how they rank against their peers whenever we want. For example, we’ll have a list of international equity funds, when we have our regular meetings we use Analytics to generate performance history, rank by quartile and rank within our selected group, we put that on file and that helps us show that there’s facts backing up our recommendations and decisions.’

Building bespoke client reports

Ashley finds the report building features in Analytics invaluable for demonstrating the value of the service he is providing to clients.

‘Our clients are generally high net worth individuals, family groups, companies and not for profit organisations, so we’re happy to put the time into these portfolios and really make them bespoke and tailored to the client’s needs. Analytics is great for doing the research but also presenting, reporting, showing the clients what their portfolio is actually doing for them, the risks they might be taking, risk adjusted returns. It really helps us justify our recommendations to clients.

Ashley was used to running off standard month end reports for a range of model portfolios in his previous role, but finds that he now utilises Analytics’ flexibility in a way he didn’t before to meet each client’s needs individually. ‘Some clients just prefer a simple graph or just a summarised version, some really want to dig into the details of the metrics of each fund and the portfolio as whole.’

Ashley uses the portfolio switch feature in the interactive performance chart to layer on a ‘what if?’ past scenario, both for prospective clients and existing clients for whom he has recommended a change; ‘it really helps us illustrate to them the differences and the benefits they’ll get from working with us.’

The reports all carry Woods and Partners’ logo, which Ashley feels serves as important reflection of the bespoke nature of the service. ‘We are putting the time and effort in, so it helps the client to see that we’ve constructed this for them, it’s different to just pulling off a factsheet, they’re getting a customised report and it’s coming from us, so from a branding perspective it’s great, it all adds value to the work we’re putting in for them.’

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