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Profile: Ashcourt's MD on the opportunities of WM's third era

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by Danielle Levy on Jun 20, 2014 at 10:26

Wealth management companies will live and die by the strength of their research departments as the industry embarks on its third era, says Ashcourt Rowan Asset Management managing director Harry Burnham.

He believes the profound changes that are currently happening in wealth management reflect an industry that is entering a new period, where financial planning and investment management converge to a greater extent. This is an evolution from pure investment management, which itself emanated from the first era, namely the traditional stockbroking model.

With one eye on the direction of travel for the industry, Burnham says one of the main attractions of joining Ashcourt Rowan was its established in-house financial planning capability. Looking ahead, he anticipates that any business that lacks a strong advice team is at risk of putting itself at a disadvantage.

‘I have seen this for myself and it [relates] very much to listening to clients. What do they want? They want and need advice in this area,’ he says.

Against this changing backdrop, he views Ashcourt’s research department as a means to attract and retain clients, rather than a cost to the business.

‘Our research department is probably our most important sales tool, rather than a cost, as perceived by so many businesses. Deliver top-level research and you have happy clients, employees and the business will roll in,’ he explains.

In Burnham’s view, quality in-house research is one of three things that investment management firms need to prosper in this day and age. Having strong systems and compliance is a second aspect.

Linked to this, he views the third as having the right balance between meeting regulatory obligations but not going so far as stifling the business.

 

Compliance teams have become even more important to wealth management businesses as the industry adapts to the post-retail distribution review (RDR) world and suitability remains a key focus for the regulator. Ashcourt Rowan was given a skilled persons order, known as a Section 166, by the regulator back in 2012 in relation to suitability.

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