I am often asked why I set up NextWealth. What’s the point of consultants anyway? It’s a fair question and one I ask myself regularly.

The short answer is that we help product providers to remain customer focussed. Financial advice businesses are mostly small businesses. Product development tends to focus on the needs of larger financial advice businesses. By aggregating the views of financial advice businesses, we re-calibrate that focus.

Large businesses often become shareholder focussed. The executives are reporting regularly to shareholders. They can get out of touch with customers and the market. We help to keep those firms customer focussed.

Finally, humans have a tendency to be more honest with an objective third party. If you receive a survey from your relationship manager at Royal London, you may be less honest with any criticisms than you will be with an independent third party. We regularly survey advisers and share the unvarnished truth with providers.

The piece of work that we did this year that I am most proud of was our work on document submission that we published in May. Financial advisers were clamouring for better digital processes from platforms. We published data on 21 platforms’ approaches to document submission for 82 processes. Why am I so proud of this work? It made a difference. We were able to shine a light on something that needed fixing. I had several executives from platforms remark how surprised they were at their firm’s standing. There was no way for them to know before we published our tables how they compared to the competition.

We are about to publish an update to that work. We did it for free last time. This time we’re charging for it. We aren’t changing the way we do because we’re earning a fee. But we’re charging a fair price for the work done.

We’ve been banging the drum on integrations for some time and will continue to do so. We have also recently done work on ESG integration – to bring the financial adviser’s perspective to a conversation that has been too product focussed to date.

Our strap line is “helping firms adapt to what’s next in wealth.” An important aspect of this is helping firms to listen to the views of their customers – a role we’re proud to play a part in.

About the Author

Heather is a data and research expert specialising in retail investment distribution. Heather is the Managing Director and Founder of NextWealth. She is also a Director of Clive Waller Consulting Ltd and serves as Vice-Chair of The Investment Network and the Schroders UK Platform Awards.