James Roberts, managing partner at London-based Partners Wealth Management, says there is too much personality bias in the way many advisers select discretionary fund managers (DFMs). Partners takes a more objective approach by using Asset Risk Consultants (ARC) to create a bespoke matrix of leading managers in each risk space and asset size.
‘ARC has a quantitative, seven-step assessment approach and a qualitative insight via access to all major groups that we could never get,’ said Roberts. ‘This insight has benefited our clients repeatedly.’
After selecting a panel of DFMs, Partners can blend these according to each client’s needs. One reason the firm likes Thesis Asset Management is it uses direct UK equities, which lowers costs.
‘Crucially, in addition to bespoke portfolios, Thesis runs model direct equity portfolios on our Fusion Wealth platform,’ said Roberts. ‘This gives us a rare proposition advantage as we can blend DFMs but still control service and custody.
‘It is not common to have direct equities on a platform. So this gives clients a significant cost advantage, which contributes to the excellent long-term performance.’
Roberts believes Thesis is held back from winning more mandates by the complexity and cost of dealing direct equities on a platform. ‘It might lobby providers to change this more as the removal of the fund manager layer of cost is welcome,’ he said.
Partners likes Thesis’ selection methodology, which identifies more FTSE 350 stocks than most other standard managers. ‘This brings welcome diversification,’ said Roberts.
‘Thesis managing director David Tyerman and the intermediary team of Lawrence Cook and Steve Neal are first rate. So is its overall collaborative ethos and approach to IFA partnership.’
On the downside, Thesis performed poorly after the EU referendum. It was underweight global equities compared with many rival DFMs and overweight in the hardest hit FTSE 250 stocks, which took away some of the outperformance of recent years.
The use of UK equities lowers costs for clients.
Thesis offers greater diversification compared with most managers.
The availability of model direct equity portfolios on the platform allows Partners to blend DFMs while controlling service and custody.
Thesis’ returns were poor after the EU referendum.
The absence of a London office is a gap in its credentials as a major player.
Thesis is held back from winning more mandates by the complexity and cost of dealing with direct equities on platforms.
Average portfolio size of the adviser's clients: £250,000
Minimum investment limit for clients using the service: £100,000
Number of the adviser's clients using the service: 100