Lena Ridley

Mitigating the appearance of conflicts, WTW will acquire a pair of multi-asset, multi-manager managed funds from advice firm Profile Financial Services.

The funds, which were originally created by Profile in April 2011, will now be known as the WTW Diversified Growth Fund (DGF) and WTW Preservation Fund (WPF), and became part of WTW’s Australian Investments business from the start of the month.

Profile CEO Lena Ridley tells Professional Planner the deal allows the firm to focus on quality advice rather than risk any conversations about potential conflicts.

“We went through a process of really examining our adherence to the law and we sought advice from multiple lawyers and ASIC,” Ridley says.

“Whilst we came to the conclusion we weren’t contravening or breaching any laws, for us, it’s important to adhere to the spirit of the law, not just the black letter of the law.”

WTW was appointed to manage the portfolios under a fiduciary management agreement in February 2018, which Ridley says has been a “successful” relationship.

“Post-[Hayne] royal commission, when we had a look at our own backyard [we] decided that in the spirit of the law this was something that we wanted to move on from,” Ridley says.

“We wanted to look for a good home for our clients in terms of their investments and we went out to tender and Willis Towers Watson are a really good fit because of the relationship that we’ve had with them for five and a half years now. We think it’s a great client outcome.”

Ridley, who also sits on the Professional Planner editorial advisory board, says the option was only available to Profile clients, but this represented only a small portion of the firm’s client base.

“We had strong governance around it so that in no way at any time were we doing anything that wasn’t in the best interest of the client,” Ridley says.

“The clients that are invested in this fund represent a minority of what our whole client base has invested in. There wasn’t any concern on our end that we weren’t recommending in-line with all the appropriate regulations.”

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