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Outsourcing Investment: Why Define Financial Planning uses Brewin Dolphin

Outsourcing Investment: Why Define Financial Planning uses Brewin Dolphin

Simon Wood-Woolley (pictured), director of Define Financial Planning, chose DFM Brewin Dolphin for its scale and resources, flexibility and strong relationships.

Number of adviser clients using the service


Average portfolio size of adviser clients


Minimum investment limit for clients using the service



Define Financial Planning has used Brewin Dolphin as its discretionary fund manager (DFM) since 2010.

‘It took us about two years from starting the process to feeling comfortable and running with it,’ said Simon Wood-Woolley, director of Define.

The firm’s clients had become increasingly demanding in terms of what they wanted in their portfolios, and it had never had the capability to select stocks, said Wood-Woolley. Instead of having to tell clients it could not help them, the firm could now point to its good relationship with its DFM.

In clients’ interests

The decision to outsource was not purely based on the retail distribution review (RDR), said Wood-Woolley. ‘There’s a lot of noise around that, but it’s more about what clients needed and wanted.’

Define undertook an extensive due diligence process, and shortlisted three DFMs. ‘We had meetings with those three and, by the end, came up with what we were confident was the best set up for our clients. We now feel comfortable with it,’ he said.

The firm uses Ascentric’s wrap, which has its own DFM models. Brewin Dolphin runs its own funds directly, however, which allows them to be more bespoke. Therefore at present they are not accessible via the wrap.

That issue may be revisited for the RDR, said Wood-Woolley, but only if it is right for both the firm and its clients.

Segmented management

The question the firm must consider for the future is whether to outsource all its investment management or segment it. The latter option was more likely, said Wood-Woolley, as he still enjoyed the day-to-day process of managing money.

‘If we could pinpoint a DFM to manage a segment of those clients, it would allow us time to manage other clients more effectively,’ he said.

Wood-Woolley said other DFMs were always on his radar, and Define had conversations with Barclays Wealth, London & Capital and Quilter, among others.

‘We’re open and always looking. But at the moment the guys at Brewin Dolphin are doing a decent job,’ he said.



Brewin Dolphin’s scale and the resources it has at its disposal are important.


The adviser-client-DFM relationship is strong and was the main driver in the decision to choose Brewin Dolphin.


It is happy to agree to our requests. We wanted quarterly meetings with the investment manager to look at client portfolios and it agreed to that.


It has a financial planning arm

That was the biggest stumbling block. We needed some reassurances about that.


Cost wise, it is not the cheapest but not the most expensive either.

Handing over investment management

Initially, it was difficult to let go of managing clients’ money.

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