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Multi-Asset and MPS: A Q&A with Brooks Macdonald’s Frank Atkins

Atkins heads up the Multi-Asset team at investment manager, Brooks Macdonald, and co-manages their MPS and Multi-Asset Fund range.

Q: What does your role involve at Brooks Macdonald and how does the team approach work?

Frank Atkins: The main aspect for me involves adviser communication. It’s about keeping advisers up to date with our views on asset allocation, portfolio construction as well as any changes we’re making to client portfolios. All of our clients who come into investment products run by the multi-asset team come directly through a financial adviser. Clearly therefore, financial advisers are at the forefront of what we do. We work hard to ensure that they have all the information they need when they’re conducting client reviews. It’s so important that they have this so that they can then provide assurances that clients need, reassuring them that their money is in good hands and – hopefully – that their portfolios are performing in the way that they expect.

Secondly, it involves asset allocation. The multi-asset team has a presence on the Brooks Macdonald Asset Allocation Committee. This means that we help to frame all our asset allocation outputs, it doesn’t just affect the products which the multi-asset team run. We heavily involve investment managers in the research process; researching the funds and the investments that go on to the centralised buy list.

It’s also my job to go out and meet the men and women who are running the funds that operate in the Far East and Emerging Markets sectors. By making sure we’ve done our due diligence, we can ensure that they’re the right fit, the right mix for the portfolios that we’re running.

Last, but not least, is the portfolio management itself. We look after a number of different propositions which can either be accessed directly through Brooks Macdonald custody or via a wide range of third-party platforms. We run a suite of multi-asset funds for advisers who want to use MPS type solutions, but within an OEIC structure. There are also some more specialist products. For example, we run a responsible investment service with the aim of advancing sustainability goals. We also run Brooks MacDonald Investment Solutions (BMIS) which is a bespoke and branded model portfolio type solution which can meet a specific financial adviser client’s need.

Q: Which sectors/products are seeing most interest from Financial Advisers at the moment?

Frank Atkins: Across the range interest is pretty strong, but we’re seeing the most interest in the Responsible Investment Service and in the BMIS part. Both these products have seen terrific growth, having increased their funds under management by more than 50% percent in Q2 of 2021.

As I say, BMIS is particularly useful for financial advisers who are looking to get a branded investment solution for their clients. They can tailor it to a specific need, be that in alignment with the client’s risk profile to meet a specific cost target, or it can include or exclude specific asset classes and different types of investment. Importantly, it allows that adviser to outsource the portfolio management activities to Brooks MacDonald, which then allows them to focus on the element which they do best, and that’s the client servicing element.

We’re seeing an increasing amount of interest in the Responsible Investment Service, and we’re keen to be recognised as early adopters of this type of service. With almost a three-year track record, the portfolio is showing very strong performance to date, so having this track record really helps. We’ve also got really good distribution channels across all the different investment platforms. It’s gone from strength to strength and I don’t see that that changing in the short or the long-term.

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