Due diligence has been an essential ingredient in the development of the structure and processes here at Berry Wealth Management.
The business was set up in August 2015. While we were waiting for FCA authorisation we spent all of our time developing our structure and processes, which are the foundations the business has been built upon today.
We have due diligence processes in place for platform selection, discretionary fund management, multi-asset solutions and all the tools that we use, including the back-office system and risk profiling tool. We also have a specific due diligence process for the professional connections we work with.
We have created our own due diligence processes, which run in tandem with our centralised investment proposition. We regularly update our suite of due diligence documents as we obtain information from providers, seminars and FCA thematic reviews.
Having such a thorough process does require a lot of work, but it’s also worthwhile. It means the team has a structured way of working, and it gives them a track to run on.
Essentially, we’re looking at everything we can so we can be as sure as possible that what we're recommending is right for our clients. Ultimately, that’s why due diligence is so important - it’s essential we have the evidence to support the recommendations we make.
When carrying out due diligence some firms fall out of the process, due to them failing to answer our specific questions. We will typically then send them a further request, but if they fail to provide the information we take this as an indication that they are not as supportive as they make themselves out to be.
Throughout the process we maintain a record of who we have contacted and the information obtained, or not as in some cases.
Frequency, approach and processes
We carry out a full review annually of platforms, discretionary fund managers, multi-asset solutions and the tools we use. We also complete an interim assessment of the firms we work with every six months to make sure the companies we have selected continue to meet our standards and remain fit for purpose.
Our due diligence process includes a future perspective, factoring in the regulatory changes coming down the track such as how equipped firms are to deal with requirements under Mifid II. Adopting this forward-looking approach has been a conscious decision on our part, particularly when taking into account the FCA’s concerns about ‘retrofitting’.
When it comes to our business processes, we apply the same level of discipline. We spend a lot of time working on the development of the business, always looking forward.
In the here and now, having structure and consistent processes in place means we can deliver on our commitments to our clients in all areas.
But it also has longer term implications, and indirectly feeds into my succession planning. It means after I’ve exited the business, the next generation within the company can pick up where I have left off, and continue delivering on our proposition to our clients.
Berry Wealth Management was born out of my relationship with Berry Accountants and the professional connection I have with a local firm of solicitors.
I regularly have meetings with high-net-worth clients with the accountant, solicitor and family present, with all contributing to the solution. In my mind, this represents the proper application of the term ‘holistic planning’. I can’t see how you can deliver truly comprehensive financial planning any other way.
Having a comprehensive due diligence process embedded within the business is essential to the firm and has greatly enhanced our professionalism.
As you may have gathered by now, for us, everything starts with a piece of due diligence!