Not enough hours in the day: Understanding the pressures financial advisers face

Lucy Mitchell, Associate Director, Smith & Williamson

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Mar 07, 2019

I have the pleasure of meeting financial advisory firms all over the country. I meet with sole traders, large regional firms, networks and everything in-between. When I ask financial advisers about the challenges they face in the current climate, many different conversations ensue and many different topics are discussed in great detail. As you will no doubt appreciate, MIFID II has been at the heart of many conversations over the last few months.

However, the thread that links many of the concerns of those I speak with, is that in the current regulatory environment, advisers wish there were more hours in the day. This might sound familiar to many people in our industry as they have experienced regulatory requirements increasing and taking up more and more of their time. MIFID II is the perfect example of this. While high regulatory standards are of course important, it has created additional work load for us all but especially for those advisers who manage money in-house on an advisory basis. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, was quoted saying the following:

“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two…”

My answer to the second question to advisers is, over the next 10 years there will be no more hours in the day and the regulatory environment will not have got any less burdensome.

Since the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) came into force on 31st December 2012, we have seen many advisory firms commit to either outsource their business to a discretionary manager or commit internally to manage client portfolios, many of which are managed on an advisory basis. In my view, in order to manage client portfolios successfully, whether through outsourcing to a discretionary manager or in-house on an advisory basis, you have to have a well-resourced team.

I am perhaps surprised, on occasions, to meet advisers who have all the responsibility for their clients’ investment portfolios on their shoulders and their shoulders alone. Their internal resources to manage client investments are limited. I can assure you that this piece is in no way an opportunity to have a dig, in fact far from it. I don’t doubt that those advisers that manage client money are capable of doing so but their lack of resource and support is a risk to their business and perhaps no more so than now under MIFID II.

The introduction of MIFID II, designed to offer greater protection and transparency to clients, has been in the making for 7 years. For many advisory firms, especially those that are well resourced, it only requires minor tweaking to their current processes and procedures. However, for those firms that are manging client portfolios on an advisory basis who are light on resource, MIFID II has been described as an administrative nightmare. The administrative burden under MIFID II will take up more time than ever, stretching limited resources to their limits. This may not be a concern for some advisers but if it is, there are many options available to you and your clients.  

At Smith & Williamson our MPS is run by three dedicated MPS managers, with a network of over 55 investment professionals responsible for investment research. We are very fortunate to have such a large team of investment professionals contributing to our MPS models and this is something that can be taken advantage of by advisers. Our 6 models are available on a number of external platforms and are invested using a blend of investment trusts, open ended funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs). We manage the money so you can focus on your core client services. After all, there are only so many hours in the day.

Lucy Mitchell, Associate Director, Smith & Williamson




By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of writing.

 Risk warning

Investment does involve risk. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up. The investor may not receive back, in total, the original amount invested. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. Rates of tax are those prevailing at the time and are subject to change without notice. Clients should always seek appropriate advice from their financial adviser before committing funds for investment. When investments are made in overseas securities, movements in exchange rates may have an effect on the value of that investment. The effect may be favourable or unfavourable.


Note to editors

Smith & Williamson is an independently owned financial and professional services group. The firm is a leading provider of investment management, financial advisory and accountancy services to private clients, professional practices, entrepreneurs and mid-to-large corporates. The group’s c1,700 people operate from a network of twelve offices: London, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cheltenham, Dublin (City and Sandyford), Glasgow, Guildford, Jersey, Salisbury and Southampton.

Smith & Williamson Investment Management LLP is part of the Smith & Williamson group.


Smith & Williamson Investment Management LLP

Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority

Smith & Williamson Investment Services Limited

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority

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Smith & Williamson

• Active portfolio management, ensuring diversification and risk management. • A dedicated MPS investment team, supported by over 50 investment professionals, giving you access to our broad intellectual capital. • Ongoing monitoring of our model portfolios by DT, Synaptic and Defaqto Engage ensuring our models stay within the permitted risk parameters. • No set rebalancing dates, enabling our MPS managers to amend asset weightings as and when their views on markets and investment strategy change. • Our MPS has been awarded a 5-star Defaqto rating in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017,2018 and 2019.

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