‘We’re all guilty of pushing the same strategies to advisers’ – Henry Cobbe

Tom Ellis writes...

DFMs and asset managers are all guilty of pushing the same investment strategies to advisers when more nuanced solutions could be more beneficial, Copia’s Henry Cobbe told delegates at RP’s sister brand Professional Adviser’s event PA360 North. 

The conference’s decumulation panel debate – made up of Thesis AM head of marketing Lawrence Cook, Copia Capital Management head Henry Cobbe and CTC Software chairman Nigel Chambers – had a lively back-and-forth about the appropriate investment strategies for decumulation, though the former two did agree DFMs and asset managers may be pushing the wrong approaches.

Cobbe – from a discretionary fund manager (DFM) himself – argued most asset managers and DFMs were selling the same products to advisers. “We’re all guilty of it,” he said. “Five risk profiles, the same basic risk allocations, yawn, yawn, yawn. It’s the same stuff – everyone is pushing the same stuff. Have my Samsung, my iPhone, it’s all the same thing – it’s a telephone.

“I just don’t buy the fact the manufacturers push standardised products to advisers and say it’s right for your clients, and your neighbours’ clients and their neighbours’ clients. Customised solutions are really interesting – going to advisers saying ‘show us your spreadsheet, show us your methodology’ and we’ll help you with the infrastructure and resource to build a solution.”

Thesis AM’s Cook offered a similar view, but argued fund managers and most DFMs wanted advisers to believe an investment strategy that stayed the same throughout the retirement journey was what all clients need – but insisted this was not the case.

“We think the best thing for clients is what great financial planners are doing,” he added. “If you are considering some sort of outsourced solution, ask if they can deliver on what you think the right decumulation strategy is.

“I fundamentally think, if you’ve got 100% of all your clients’ assets in equities, most of the time you’d be right, wouldn’t you? Trouble is, 10% of times it goes pear-shaped and that is why we live in this complex world.”