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Where’s the free advice?

In our last blog we pointed out that we only charge clients for scheme-specific advice. 

We believe that generic advice that varies from client to client is nonetheless valuable.  However, we have decided to give it away for free on our website.  This is a commercial decision rather than a moral one.  We believe that it is reasonable for other investment consultants to charge for such advice – they have development costs to cover.

Why have we done this?

For our clients, this allows us to get to the important issues faster.  This allows us to offer cost-effective advice for smaller schemes.

For potential new clients this is our shop window.  We hope that if trustees or company representatives find our generic advice understandable, sensible and useful, then they will consider using us when they do need scheme-specific advice.  However, there is no obligation.  Feel free to help yourself even if you have no intention of hiring us.

This has forced us to make our ‘house views’ explicit.  You will get consistent advice from us regardless of which individual within our firm is providing it.  Smaller schemes will not be given second rate advice from up-and-coming junior consultants.

Where is the advice?

We understand that some people thought that these blogs were the generic advice we were talking about.  That is not the case.  Most investment consultants produce public ‘thought-pieces’.  There is nothing innovative about that. 

The free generic advice is in our members’ section.  This is free to join for clients and non-clients alike, and there is no commitment to use us in the future.  We hope that you find the material interesting and useful.

So far there are some 45,000 words of advice within our trustees section, covering a wide range of subjects including:

Basic asset classes

Practical advice

Advanced topics


Setting investment objectives


Corporate bonds


Liability Driven Investment (LDI)

Index linked gilts

Asset Liability Models (ALMs)


Overseas bonds

Growth assets

Leverage in LDI Funds 

Emerging market debt

Hedging assets


UK equities

Number of fund managers


Overseas equities

Active versus passive management


Emerging market equities

With-profits funds

Myners Principles


Diversified Growth Funds (DGFs)

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)

Private equity


Corporate governance

Hedge Funds

Manager selection



Setting rebalancing limits



Drafting Statement of Investment Principles (SIPs)



Asset transfers






Defined contributions


We will be continually updating and adding to this advice.  In the meantime we welcome suggestions for additional topics to cover (or indeed, any way of making our website more useful).

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References (11)

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    Where’s the free advice? - Opinion pieces - Barker Tatham
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    Where’s the free advice? - Opinion pieces - Barker Tatham
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    Where’s the free advice? - Opinion pieces - Barker Tatham
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    Where’s the free advice? - Opinion pieces - Barker Tatham
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    Where’s the free advice? - Opinion pieces - Barker Tatham
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    Where’s the free advice? - Opinion pieces - Barker Tatham
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    Where’s the free advice? - Opinion pieces - Barker Tatham

Reader Comments (2)

I was disappointed to read your belief in the 93.6% importance of asset allocation incorrectly attributed to the Brinson et al studies in the USA by Paul Myners in his 2001 report.

I commend to you Roger Ibbotson and Paul Kaplan's year 2000 article, "Does Asset Allocation Policy Explain 40, 90, or 100 Percent of Performance?" in Financial Analysts Journal.

Ibbotson and Kaplan and others (eg Yale's David Swensen) point out that the Brinson et al studies are often misinterpreted and the results applied to questions that the studies never intended to answer. For example, the variation of investment performance among schemes.

August 31, 2011 | Registered CommenterGeorge Kirrin

Thanks for that George. I'll track down that article.

Apparently 68% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

In all seriousness, from practical experience we have found that in most cases the marginal contribution to the overall risk that comes from active fund managers is negligible. And this is usually mirrored when we attribute into various factors, the change in funding level since the last valuation as part of our monitoring work.

August 31, 2011 | Registered CommenterSteve Barker
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