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FE Academy aims to help adviser firms get more from their research

Lovewell Blake became the first fully FE Analytics certified firm via the FE Academy. FE’s Kaavya Dijendranath looks at the process and what the Academy offers

After a decade of helping paraplanners with their research and investment needs, FE has expanded its commitment to the community through the launch of a dedicated FE Academy. The FE Academy offers a structured knowledge and training programme that will help businesses get more from their investment in FE’s solutions.

The training program is delivered through modular courses that are specifically customised to the individual needs and priorities of advisers, paraplanners and other roles within a financial advisory business. The modules are accredited for providing continuous professional development (CPD) to trainees as it supports the practice of comprehensive investment research and analysis through the effective use of FE Analytics tools.

Following the training, paraplanners can choose to become ‘FE Analytics certified’ after an online examination. Since its introduction the FE Analytics certification has been widely popular as it not only indicates a level of knowledge of FE Analytics but also the key skills involved in researching investments and providing robust advice.

To illustrate how the Academy can support a business’ operations, we speak to paraplanner Neil Holmes from Lovewell Blake, who turned to the Academy when he was looking for continuous professional development for his team. With the whole team now FE Analytics certified, he is confident in their ability to justify their investment recommendations to clients.

Lovewell Blake specialise in accountancy, business advice and financial planning and have offices in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The company offers their clients three investment propositions which range from fully bespoke portfolios, a model portfolio service and risk rated solutions.

Lovewell Blake have been FE Analytics users for over ten years and is particularly important to Neil’s role as a paraplanner. At Lovewell Blake the team of four paraplanners carry out what can be regarded as the more technical side of the advisory role. Working alongside the adviser, Neil’s job is to provide them with investment options specific to their 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’’ says Neil.

The importance of robust research

Lovewell Blake places great importance on technical fund research to support its propositions.

Explaining the process, Neil says: ‘’Research on a particular investment was previously carried out offline, which gave us very limited scope for online 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 it, 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 RDR we have come a long way from that. With the advent of risk rated and model portfolios and use of DFMs, there is a much greater need to look at holistic planning for our 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 for clients in the future.’’

FE Analytics Certification

Neils says: ‘’We are quite academic at Lovewell Blake and we like to encourage our staff to learn, take exams and qualifications. So, immediately we felt the FE Analytics Certification 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 all 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,” Neil says.

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 the clients an explanation. This is where we feel the FE Analytics Certification is important,” Neil says.

“The support from FE has been fantastic – 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 level four qualification. All our staff study for CII qualifications, but 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.’’

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