A key part of any long term financial planning is making sure you’re invested in the right things at the right time.
Gibson Lamb is a small, privately owned business (and we’d say that is a significant reason why we remain successful 40 plus years after we started) but what this does mean is that we don’t have the budget to have an in house investment expert with the sole job of reviewing the economic outlook and deciding what to buy, what to sell and what to hold.
We have instead built a long term relationship with Financial Express who are one of the leading investment fund analysts with an enviable reputation going back many years. We are proud to have been one of the first firms to sign up to a service they offered in 2012 specifically aimed at providing small firms like us the sort of fund data and analysis that had previously been the reserve of only the largest businesses.
Financial Express (FE) use their data to sort through the thousands of funds which any of us could invest in. They filter that down to a more manageable shortlist by looking at an array of statistical points to identify funds which have performed consistently. They constantly review the background statistical data which means they perform millions of calculations a week to ensure the data remains up to date and this weekly analysis means they can spot any anomalies very quickly. If the computer identifies something unusual the query is passed to a real person to investigate further and it was the human element to their service which really appealed to us.
Talking directly to fund managers
So far so (relatively) easy and this is where their service gets really quite interesting. FE are a large and well respected brand in Financial Services and when they want to interview a fund manager, they are able to get to the right people and set up such a meeting. Gibson Lamb wouldn’t get past the security outside the reception area, let alone to the people who make the decisions.
Furthermore when they meet a fund manager they have all the data they need at their fingertips to ask good questions and understand the answers. The fees for this service are not insubstantial but by outsourcing the research and monitoring of individual investment funds we can concentrate fully on what we are good at, and what we believe our clients want us to focus on which is their personal circumstances and objectives.
In additional to identifying a range of good quality, consistent investment funds FE offer a further service which is to design a portfolio of funds to meet a specific investment criteria, typically a certain level of risk over a set period of time.
We don’t hesitate to put our two pennies in!
Those of you who know us will realise we always have an opinion and we don’t simply accept what Financial Express have to say without being a devil’s advocate. This is clearly demonstrated by our early adoption of commercial property funds in late 2013 which has proven to be an astute decision with the benefit of hindsight.
To bring this post to an end I will sum up by saying that our relationship with FE is a good example of how our business has adopted the latest ‘best practice’ by outsourcing key tasks to companies who have the relevant expertise and resources but, crucially, retaining the overall responsibility of the task whatever it may be.
There is another function of FE which is to provide a ‘risk score’ for the funds and portfolios that we use; this is a fascinating element of their service which is worthy of a future blog post all of its own.