Whole of market product research and compliance support
Synaptic Product & Fund Research is the original automated product and fund research tool, built to replace the paper-based tables that were commonplace in the industry in bygone ages. Ever since, Synaptic Software has compiled and distributed financial product information within an application that is recognised for its ease of use and quality of data.
The tool has become the corner stone for ‘best’ advice, where evidence of whole of market research is required for compliance purposes, client presentation and other reports. Synaptic Product & Fund is the means by which an adviser can demonstrate how a recommendation is aligned with client needs, as revealed in the Fact Find. Given the litigious nature of the world, and the on going liability that resides with the adviser (to the grave), the importance of the audit trail provided by Synaptic Product & Fund is paramount. Synaptic Reports support thousands of recommendations made every month across the full range of retirement, investment and protection products.
Synaptic Product & Fund is one of the most respected resources in the industry. A decision made by an adviser or organisation to use it will provide immediate and lasting protection, including defense against accusations of misselling. It could prove to be one of the most important decisions that you make.
Synaptic Product & Fund and larger organisations
Synaptic Product & Fund is mandated within many larger adviser firms and organisations – it is provided to all member firms in some networks. In larger firms, the tool can assist in providing consistent and quality advice - through the management of panels and the sharing of research and reports. Some firms have special fields added to the reports to identify approved products.
- Suitable for single user or large organisations
- Head office functionality includes panel setting, restricted access and file checking
Quality of the data
The reputation of Synaptic Product & Fund is built upon the quality of the product data whose collation is overseen by the our dedicated Research Team. A unique feature of our system is the ability of providers to supply and verify their own data in the system.
- Data is supplied and verified by Providers
- No need for updates – as the tool is online, data is centrally maintained on monthly basis.
Tracking links between Products and Funds
Most research tools do not recognise which share class / mirror / pension fund will actually be bought in the chosen wrapper. This is a serious short coming as different share classes are used to manage differentials in pricing. Not understanding which charging shape will required does not constitute ‘best advice’, and we believe that in the age of data in which we live, advisers should have access to the information they require. Product & Fund provides a complete view of the relationship between products and funds.
Synaptic Product is normally sold with the Fund module attached – as the two work seamlessly together.
- Look up fund availability by wrapper or vice versa for investment availability
- Track share classes accurately
Flexibility of the system
The flexibility of the system allows you to do ‘client-centric’ research which allows you to look at the full range of contracts available, leading you through a well defined research methodology to recommendation and report creation. ‘Product-centric’ research allows you to ‘dip in’, in order to look up specific facts, features or values. You may for example just want to check a maturity value, an exclusion or just the telephone number of a provider.. no problem!
- Conduct Client-centric (resulting in report) or Product-centric (look up only) research
- Save and recall research items
The screen below shows ‘client centric’ research. On the left, ‘product centric’ research allows unrestricted access to the data for ‘look up’ purposes (rather than filtering), in this case a summary list of contracts from a Provider, any of which can be accessed as Product Fact Sheets.
Over 250 companies, representing over 1,000 contracts in over 70 product types are represented in detail in the software. These are broken down into the following areas:
The Research Process
A key strength of Synaptic Product & Fund is the proven methodology that takes the user from consideration of the whole of market to recommendation and report within three steps:
1. Filtering to create short list
Having chosen the product category you wish to research, Synaptic Product & Fund has several intuitive aids to help you sift through the options (see below):
- clicking on features will create a grid for cross reference
- create a ‘manual list’ to work from
- filter based on ‘Features’, ‘Sectors’, ‘Conditions’ or ‘PP’ (Past Performance)
- clicking on an individual item will populate the grid with the relevant values, assisting in any filtering required
- once you have completed the filtering stage, you will have a short list.
The screen below shows the reduction in options from ‘whole of market’ coverge that occurs when filters are applied.
2. Ranking to ‘weight’ short list to identify recommendation
- filtering in step 1 will remove contracts that are not suitable.
- ‘Ranking’ is the next step, which will attribute a weight for any of the features that is ‘desirable’.
The screen below shows the results of weighting applied according to ranking procedure. This is a unique and transparent process that enables the adviser to evidence the rationale of any decision.
3. Evidence your research and recommendation within a suitability report
- select your contract recommendation from the ranked short list
- then select the type of report that you want to access – a short research summary or full suitability report
- the research that you have part or fully completed will now be saved on Synaptic’s secure servers and be available for retrieval as and when required
A full suitability report is generated once a contract has been selected for recommendation.
Compliance, Head Office and administrative capabilities
Synaptic Research allows companies to build robust compliance processes. A business that includes a Synaptic report as part of a case submission will have covered key compliance requirements. Head Office functionality makes compliance work across a larger organisation easy:
- evidence of having researched the whole of market / panel in the case of restricted propositions
- audit trail of features (and exclusions) applied as part of establishing suitability
- special settings for paraplanners to allow saving of research, file sharing and retrieval
- Head Office functionality allows administrator to set up and manage log ons and permissions
- Head Office allows for the management of Panels and restricted offerings
The screen below shows the research audit trail in table form, identifying the features which have caused contracts to have been excluded.
Researching Funds using Synaptic Fund Research
Most advisers will invest in a professional Fund Research tool. ‘Free to air’ solutions are available and can be used for accessing basic fund fact sheets, but in a world where customers are becoming better informed about investment matters via the web, advisers need to have access to information that will support their value proposition, and technology that allows them to use their knowledge and experience beyond what is available to the consumer.
Apply Synaptic Research methodology in Synaptic Fund Research
You can employ Synaptic Research Methodology to your fund research – applying filters and weightings to a range of options in order to produce a shortlist followed by a recommendation that is supported by a full audit trail.
Unit Trusts / OEICS
ABI life fund sectors
ABI pension fund sectors
ABI pension fund sectors
Financial Express Categories
Funds from a specific promoter
Funds linked to a specific contract
Manual fund list
There are several routes into the research including a look at a fund sector, using either IMA or FE Global classifications. For example choosing FE UK Equity will return around 400 funds. These can then be filtered, ranked and selected on:
- RSM or Crown Ratings
- Past Performance up to 10 years
- ‘Conditions’ including Promoter / Manager / Sector / Investment Area / Benchmark
- ‘Statistics’ including Best / Worst months / Charges / TER / Fund Size
- Risk Metrics including Volatility / Alpha / Beta / Correlation / Sharpe / Sortino / Covariance
The screen below shows how a grid of features can be built up to aid fund research, access to filters (on the left hand side of screen) and useful aids such as access to definitions.
Portfolio and reporting functionality includes:
- creation of Portfolios
- full graphing capabilities including cumulative / alpha vs beta / performance vs volatility / asset allocation / stochastic projection
The screen shows typical graphing output showing the relative performance of various funds and chosen index. The drop down indicates the range of different graphs that can be requested given the fund selection.
Fund Fact Sheets
Over 150k Fund Fact Sheets are downloaded every year. Synaptic Fund Fact sheets include:
- Asset allocation
- Linked Contracts
- Fund details including promoter, manager, size, launch date
- Past performance, discrete, by quarter, cumulative
- Alpha and Risk Metrics
- Asset allocations / sector and geographical weightings
- Rayner Spencer Mills opinions
- Charging information
See below for example of a Synaptic Fund factsheet.
Advisers interested in Synaptic Product & Fund may wish to consider the following:
Synaptic Risk Rating – a free service including integrated Attitude to Risk Service
Synaptic Modeller – financial planning tool comprising of stochastic projection engine and full investment risk analysis capability
Synaptic Comparator – on and off platform price comparisons including Reduction in Yield Calculations, investment switching incorporating ‘Critical Yield’ and ‘Maturity value’ calculators, ‘Proxy Funds’ and flexibility for capturing full range of product and adviser charges.
Synaptic Webline – Protection and Annuities quote and e-apply portal. Soon to incorporate ‘Features Driven Quotes’