A world where nothing...quite...works 

When I was a little boy, apparently 'train driver' was on my list of aspirations, presumably along with astronaut or brain surgeon.  I heard recently from a friend who has actually realised his childhood dream (unlike me), and on the basis of his firsthand testimony, I think I'd probably cross that one off my list.  Apparently, the inside of the Severn Tunnel (mainline to London via Bristol) is one continual waterfall.  Admittedly, we're not talking a Niagara Falls phenomenon here - but rather a pronounced, continual leakage through the roof, from the Severn Estuary several metres above your head.  Reassuring, isn't it?  I had wondered why this is a revelation to me - and then realised that passengers are mercifully spared the vision of the downpour because there is no light - the driver views the precipitation in his headlights.  Still, at least the train gets a bit of a wash.

Now, combine that thought with the news that the Severn Tunnel is currently closed due to engineering work being conducted as part of the electrification of the Network.  My initial sympathy for the engineers, working in the dark, and subject to a continual downpour, has receded as my fascination has developed around the implications for high-voltage equipment within such an environment.  Perhaps we may be heading for more weighty and persuasive reasons for train delays, other than the more ubiquitous "leaves on the line" excuse which is now so tawdry that it fails even to raise a wry smile.

Change of subject.  Recently, I decided that it would be a cunning wheeze to upgrade my wife's phone contract to a 'SIM-only' option, given that we have a perfectly functional, refurbished iphone 5 to get some use out of.  The lady at EE applauded my sagacity (meanness).  Yes, it all made sense.  Yes, she would send the new SIM out immediately, and I should expect it tomorrow.  Great.  Job done.

Except it wasn't.  I had not allowed for the fact that EE would send out the SIM by courier.  Indeed, why would I ever have assumed they would?  How much does a SIM-card weigh?  Does it come in a dirty-great cardboard box, stuffed with those little polystyrene pieces that look like Wotsits?  (Warning: they do not taste like them). Of course not.  But this one was sent out by courier.  The good news is that it made it as far as our offices.  The courier even took a photo of the stairs outside.  But did he venture inside to actually deliver the thing?  Oh no.  Instead, we received a text which said that he had been "unable to deliver" the item.  I have a mental picture of a Mr Puniverse type, struggling to shift the tiny SIM-card up the stairs, and then giving up, half-way, muttering about the hardships he has to endure.

I cannot actually think of a single rational explanation to account for this phenomenon, other than perhaps some spurious support for the Multiverse theory.  In another parallel universe, someone with my name did take delivery of their SIM-card.  In my case, as an infinite number of possibilities randomly reshuffled themselves, I was assigned a complete misfit to deliver the package, perhaps someone with a pathological aversion to climbing stairs, or a burgeoning collection of undelivered SIM-cards.  I could imagine him showing them off to friends, at parties.

You get the picture.  In fact, you'll have your own examples.  Tim Cook may announce the new iPhone 7 as the best ever, we may all lust over that piano-black finish, and ooh and aah over the new...er...waterproofosity - but all that impressiveness avails us nothing if EE aren't even able to deliver a SIM-card, due to the anti-deliverance proclivities of their couriers.  For stuff to work properly, it needs to be joined-up.

It's therefore a joy to have access to systems designed for IFAs which are joined-up.  Yesterday, we ran our DeFaqto Engage training workshop in London, which was well attended.  People actually coming along, and arriving in time, is a key component of that joined-upness.  We had great speakers (Carly Bewick and Roger Perry from DeFaqto), a great venue, a nice lunch.  The wifi worked, the displays were clear and visible to all, and the content delivered was exactly right for a roomful of people with quite different levels of experience and expertise in using what we believe is the most powerful independent research system currently available in the UK.  Everything joined up in the workshop itself, and that's entirely appropriate, as DeFaqto Engage is the ideal resource for IFAs who want their advice process to be joined up:  

  • the interaction between general, templated research and client-specific refinements of due diligence
  • the ability to conduct due diligence which will have a distinct shelf-life (for example, supporting such key matters as regular Platform reviews), to fit in with your regular, ongoing process
  • the facility to document clearly why your due diligence may have excluded certain products
  • a seamlessly-linked investment advice process - risk-profiling feeds into asset-allocation which in turn takes you straight into fund-selection - in a coherent way that allows you to test and modify your approach
  • the X-Ray functionality provides an objective way for assessing the effectiveness of legacy investment solutions - and assists the financial-planner in the demanding area of rebalancing
  • linking into that X-Ray analysis, is the facility to import investment data as an Excel spreadsheet (you just need two columns, 'ISIN' and 'Weight') - and immediately, your research is prepopulated
  • internal data-linking within Engage allows the adviser to flick from summary view, to looking in more depth at the actual contract features for a given product
  • the linking of all your research emphases through to a final report for export into Word or PDF formats - so an absolutely essential component of your suitability documentation
How joined-up is your advice process?  If you're a ValidPather, and you are not taking the trouble to explore this functionality, then you may be missing a significant trick.  It can be configured to link to Clarity, our practice-management system and through to ATEB, your tool for generating fully-compliant suitability reports.  Use it.  In a disappointing world where so many things don't work, this one really does.