Harbour’s latest article on client trends published on Nucleus Illuminate

Nucleus and Illuminate logos combined

Nucleus has published Harbour’s latest article on client trends. Written by David Roberts, Harbour’s creator, the article is a precis analysis of data mined from Harbour’s client suitability database.

“Harbour’s data comprises much more than simplistic attitude-to-risk tools are capable of gathering” says David Roberts. “Analysis of Harbour’s data is much more revealing of client’s investment strategies, suitability requirements and demographics. It is also reveals firms’ approach to suitability as well as that of individual advisers based on the demographics of clients”.

“The FCA has often said that firms must show that they are delivering consistent advice to clients but I would contradict that.” says David Roberts. “Clients come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, at different stages of their lives and with differing lifestyle needs and investment requirements. The real challenge is for a firm to demonstrate that it has a consistent and robust process for delivering finance advice to inconsistent clients. At a glance, I can see how firms are delivering consistent and appropriate investment advice to their clients.”

To read the article on Nucleus Illuminate, click here.

Robos under fire over suitability

A review of seven firms offering automated discretionary fund management services and automated advice have been found by the FCA to have shortcomings.

The shortcomings cover investor suitability, vulnerable clients and fees and disclosure.

This is no surprise to Harbour. “Using simplistic attitude to risk tools has created systemic failings in the advice and financial planning sector.” comments David Roberts, Harbour’s creator. “When firms use cut-down versions of the same tools, it really should come as no surprise that those failings and shortcomings transfer into this new delivery channel called Robo-Advice.”

Click here for Money Marketing’s article.

Thesis decumulation seminars

Thesis AM logoGloucestershire’s Tortworth Court was the venue for the first of a series of seminars run by Thesis Asset Management on the important and timely topic of decumulation.

Harry Taylor of Harry Taylor Consulting and Damian Davies of The Timebank offered their own interesting insights to client expectation and objectives as well as regulatory matters effecting decisions on decumulation and income drawdown.

Most interesting was the insight given by Matthew Hoggarth Thesis’ head of research, on its new Managed Income Service and Lawrence Cook’s demostration of Thesis online illustration tool. Thesis Managed Income Service is really interesting and is designed specifically for clients in decumulation.

And that’s where Harbour comes in because never before has assessing Need-For-Risk for decumulation clients been so relevant and important.


Lloyds targets financial planning and pensions in three-year plan

Money Marketing - Lloyds targets financial planning and pensions 21st February 2018So, Lloyds Banking Group aims to boost its financial planning and retirement open book assets by more than £50bn by 2020 and is targeting more than one million new pension customers. Really!

Laith Khalaf of Hargreaves Lansdown was quoted as saying that they’ll have to sharpen up their toolkit. No s**t Sherlock!

No doubt Lloyds Banking Group will go for a lightweight ATR solution that simply ticks boxes rather than properly evaluate client need-for-risk. And then, over a period of time, without insightful MI or analytics, all those mis-sold investments will start to reveal themselves to the world at large and eventually the regulator and finally, Lloyds Banking Group will pull out of financial planning – for a time only to return later when the negative reputational dust has settled.

Doesn’t history have the propensity to repeat itself!

Click here for the article written by Kate Marriner of Money Marketing.

Benchmarking and Investor Suitability – why it matters

For some inexplicable reason, the term benchmark or benchmarking rarely appears in reference to investor suitability. This is despite its universal use by fund managers for fund performance indices.

Benchmarking is an essential aid to any business and is closely aligned with best practice. It is just as often called Best Practice Benchmarking or Process Benchmarking.

Benchmarking Graphs Ruler and Verier GaugeBenchmarking and Best Practice are at the heart of Harbour. From the outset, Harbour was designed with powerful in-built capability that far outstrips ATR tools – benchmarking was just one of a number of such useful features.

At least four times a year, we publish analysis of Harbour’s usage data and these benchmarks are circulated freely to Harbour’s users. Not only do we publish profile distribution, but we also publish such data as: override use by category, percentages of clients in accumulation vs de-accumulation as well as analysis of client suitability profiles by age distribution and invested amount.

Using Harbour’s published analysis, business owners are able to compare their suitability data with these benchmarks.

Why is this useful?

Firstly, these benchmarks help both Harbour and user firms. We can validate at a glance regularly that Harbour’s questionnaire and process is robust, that clients are assessed accurately, that the overrides are appropriate to the client needs and the correlation between client ages, investment amounts and their suitability profile is clearly illustrated. And because this data is dynamically captured within the questionnaire process, the result is a solution that delivers investor suitability process benchmarking as a background activity without and effort by advisers, paraplanners or compliance staff.

It is a feature that is greatly valued by compliance managers and business owners, particularly those running multi-adviser firms because it offers an unrivalled insight into process consistency and behaviour. No ATR tool has this in-built power.

Be both amazed and in fantastic company

Harbour Clients Montage January 2018If your financial planning firm is in the top quartile judged by culture and professionalism, then you’ll be amazed at Harbour’s capability and potential for  reductions in management effort as well as the removal of commercial and regulatory risk.

You only have to look at the type of financial planning firms with whom we work closely. Harbour’s users operate at the top of the financial planning profession – they embody the culture and professionalism where Harbour has the greatest appeal. They are as far from having a tick-box culture as one can get.


Why I love Harbour users

pexels-photo-207962.jpeg“Those who know me describe me as passionate about whatever I do. Whether it’s my personal life and interests or my professional one, it’s what motivates me.” says David Roberts, creator of Harbour.

“I’d rather do something that I’m passionate over rather than devote my time and effort to something that doesn’t stir my soul. Those who know me really well know that I don’t do half-hearted!” Needless to say, Harbour and its approach to investor suitability is a passion of David Roberts.

Which takes us to the article’s headline – Why I love Harbour users. For David, working closely with industry professionals makes all the difference. “One of my day-to-day rewards is being met with similar levels of enthusiasm for Harbour by its users. When someone says to me ‘Have you considered introducing a such-and-such feature to Harbour’ we listen because their experience at the coal-face of advice is invaluable; or ‘Thanks for the KPI & MI report, the stats and graphs about our business is really insightful!’ because that tells us that we give something extra and of value beyond the basic. As well as: “Of course I’m happy to give Harbour a testimonial” because that shows that we’re doing things right across the board.”

“Coincidentally yet not surprisingly, all of Harbour users share a similar business ethos and it’s one that we share. And the ethos is this: care for your customers, put customer service at the forefront and look after them and they’ll look after you. Without exception, all Harbour’s users are professionals in the true meaning of the word and they and their businesses have clear customer service strategies that deliver great service and outcomes for their customers. They are, in my opinion, in the top quartile of the advice profession.”

David sums up his passion at work: “Working with such highly regarded professionals is stimulating and rewarding. That is why I love Harbour users.”

David Roberts is the creator of the Harbour investor suitability assessment  system.

Informed Financial Planning win two prestigious Professional Adviser awards

IFP New Logo - JPEG with extra white borderProfessional Adviser magazine has warded Hull based Informed Financial Planning North East Adviser of the Year 2018 and Best Advisers to Work for 2018.

The awards ceremony took place at The Brewery venue in London on Thursday 8th February.

These latest awards are the fifth year that Informed Financial Planning have been shortlisted for a Professional Adviser award. Informed Financial Planning have been previously awarded Professional Adviser’s Best North East Adviser of the Year in 2014, 2015 and 2016 as well as one of New Model Adviser’s Top 100 Financial Adviser Firms in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Professional Adviser Awards 2018The Informed Financial Planning is led by its founder and Managing Director Kevin Ferriby. The team is made up of six Financial Planners supported by a team of six Paraplanners, eight administration staff and a management team of six.

Congratulations to all in the team at Informed Financial Planning!



Informed Financial Planning have been committed Harbour users since 2015 with approaching one thousand client suitability assessments completed since they adopted the best practice suitability assessment questionnaire and process.




Drawdown: Attitude-to-Risk or Need-for-Risk – that is the question

Generation X retirement will present greater challenges for advice and financial planning. Is it time for Need-for-Risk to replace Attitude as the means to define client investment risk?

pexels-photo-302854.jpegNeed-for-risk is much more crucial to managing clients approaching or in drawdown and the transition from career into retirement and onwards to old age. Here, advancing years and potentially rising healthcare costs combine with market volatility and the effects of sequencing risk.

Generation X haven’t enjoyed the same workplace pension provisions as those that preceded them – the Baby Boomers. The Generation X workplace started in the post-industrial Britain of the Thatcher years and, for many, the generous corporate pensions were a thing of the past. Generation X dived headlong into the consumer economy; debt was good and money flowed joyfully around the economy much to the delight of successive governments keen to cream off their share.

Retirement did not feature prominently in Generation X’s thoughts yet here they are, with potentially smaller pensions pots, on the threshold of what will inevitably become a longer retirement period than their predecessors.

For most of Generation X, the challenge will be to maximise the return from their savings and pensions and make it last as long as possible. Property downsizing or equity release will become necessary to further finance retirement years.

For Generation X, professional financial planning advice will be essential. For a generation brought up on the concept of enjoy today and ignore tomorrow’s worries, navigating the pre and post-retirement journey will a challenge. Financial planning firms will increasingly find themselves providing life coaching as a necessary and valuable part of the financial planning service. In this context, establishing Need-for-Risk is much more relevant that testing mere attitude. Ensuring that clients understand the need for risk is crucial to a sound advice and financial planning service.

When it comes to evaluating the appropriate suitability and risk benchmark, what will your clients value and prefer? Need-for-Risk or Attitude-to-Risk. Which will help your firm deliver a better client service? We know what Harbour’s financial planning firms will say – Need-for-Risk every time.


Starting 2018 with even more powerful features

In line with Harbour’s ethos of constant improvement, the new year saw this best-of-breed suitability assessment software gain even more enhancements. These went live successfully on 1st January.

The enhancements cover a range of new functionality; the most significant being the full integration of a questionnaire and suitability process for charities and trusts. This new feature complements the existing feature for private clients.

David_RobertsOne of the main areas of vulnerability for advisers and financial planners concerns the assessment of trust investment suitability by using attitude-to-risk tools. “Whilst many advisers use their existing ATR tool for assessing risk for trusts, such tools are completely inappropriate.” says David Roberts, Harbour’s creator. “Assessing a trustee’s ‘attitude’ is not what’s required, it is the need to assess the trust’s needs and objectives that is required. More importantly, the trustee’s ‘attitude’ may well be contrary to the trust’s aims. With financial planning firms increasingly working closely or in partnership with solicitors, it is important that firms get the right processes in place.”

Other enhancements introduced to Harbour include improvements to its unique KPI & MI Reporting that now includes stats on clients in drawdown as well as analytics on a firm’s charity and trust business. In addition, there are new management facilities as well as enhancements made at the request of clients.

Firms including Informed Financial Planning, Mitten Clarke Wealth Management, FiveWays Financial Planning and SAM Wealth already consider Harbour to be a class apart from those ATR tools commonly used by advice firms. With these latest enhancements, the difference between Harbour and ATR tools is even greater.

Consumers failing to save enough due to lack of financial advice

So says a survey commissioned by the Nottingham Building Society.

The survey of over 1,000 people suggests that consumers think that they would save more, to the tune of £134 a month more, if they had received financial advice. 21 per cent of adults say they are losing out on £1,600 per annum without advice.

A third of savers under 35, say that they are held back from saving due to lack of advice; this compares to 12 per cent of over those aged 55s. Many report difficulties in gaining access to savings and investment advice.

DSCN6623 David pic 3In David Roberts opinion, the problem is more fundamental than straightforward lack of advice – saving appears nowhere in today’s consumer driven society.

“I would be surprised if the marketing budget spent on saving and investments amounted to 0.1% of the overall UK spend on marketing. The pressure to spend and buy is off the scale in comparison with that for saving. It’s simply not a sexy sell.” says David.

He continues “Blaming the advice gap is easy and a cop-out. Successive governments must accept their significant portion of blame because every government since the 1980s wanted and needed consumer spending to continue to generate tax revenues. Neither do they want money tied up in bricks and mortar. Governments shouldn’t be surprised if consumers do what they’re ask to do – spend.”

“It’s not that advice is difficult to find, consumers have long lost consciousness of the need to save and invest. It needs the government to tip the scales but I shan’t hold my breath.”