Report Content

How! All

I am having another think about the content of the reports that we produce and whilst we have made them shorter, I still think they are too long.

I am seen some reports which literally just contain what the FCA want and everything else is in the appendix.

At the moment we have the following sections

Your Objectives and My Recommendations
Current situation
Risk Profile
Product & Provider Recommendation
Portfolio Recommendation
Cost Comparisons where appropriate
Risk Warnings
Advice Costs
Regular Review
Your Rights
Duty of Disclosure
Next Steps
Client Declaration

My thoughts are

Risk Profile
Put in the risk profile section just say we agreed x level of risk based upon your term, knowledge and capacity for loss and further details can be found in the appendix

Product and Provider Recommendation
Put in I am recommending X product on the Y platform the reasons for which can be found in the appendix

Portfolio Recommendation
I am recommending X portfolio and further details can be found in the appendix

This, I believe would cut the main body of our report down by half, from 14 pages to 7.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this approach or been told its not compliant?

My concern is that we havent actually shorterned the report, but rather had to make the client jump around to find stuff?

Any feedback would be appreciated.


  • @Martin_Green has some good views on this.

    Chartered Financial Planner FPFS APP Chartered MCSI
    Head of Technical at EQ Investors

  • JonaJona Member

    @Nathan I get your concern about making the client jump around between report and appendix.

    Perhaps in the report leave the detail the client cares about "platform X as its cost effective, gives you the tax wrappers you need, has FAD that allow timely ad-hoc withdrawals and investment choice you need" i.e. related to objectives but put all the other bumpf around the provider in an appendix........

  • Clare_WeightClare_Weight Member
    edited January 23

    Hi Nathan,

    Personally, I'm not a fan of bulky appendices. I always ask for feedback and when I get it I am consistently told that no-one reads appendices. I've also read that stuff in the appendices is also unlikely to cover your arse so my view is why bother having it all. I remember Paradigm recommending a few years ago that we have risk warnings in the main body of the report, ideally split up and given at relevant points (like I know we both do) rather than the page fulls the template provider used to give us!

    For me, appendices are just for content which only might be relevant, like PPF, RNRB... nothing pertinent to the advice in that report.

    When I had less freedom to cut reports down, we ended up responding to a feeling that reports were too long basically by making them longer.... with the inclusion of an overview summary page whatever you like to call it. Not an ideal solution but still an improvement towards the real demand behind a demand for a shorter report; that's a demand for them to be easier to read and get to the point quickly.

    Having cut down length in latter employment (yay!) and enjoying freedom, I still favour summary page, contents, report in the same running order as yours and appendices. I think a good overview page can give what Jona is referring to and means the client only has to read that one page to pretty much get it. But hopefully it will pique interest in the rest of the report which they can easily skim through with your nice meaningful headings, use of tables etc. I think a nice clear contents page to navigate by is important too but I think you already do that.

    There will always be some who complain the report is too long and some who complain we cut too much. Every adviser has different habits, expectations and compliance worries or potential complaint paranoias (often a fixation on a bad past experience). Every client has a different level of engagement. I think your reports are brilliant but we could do the best job in the world and never please everyone!


  • I personally don't believe in having a contents page. It is just another page wasted and probably isn't looked at by clients. The most important aspect of a good report (again in my opinion) in order to tell the client their story, is that it flows in a logical way as such that the clients feel compelled to keep reading to finish "the story". As a result, they don't need to flick back and forth or check contents pages for where certain sections are.

    On top of that, the executive summary or summary page needs to often fit in a huge amount of detail but in a concise manner so that if the client doesn't read any further they at least have the crux of your advice to them. The client circumstances/ current situation should fit neatly in this page alongside the recommended actions, so that an additional page can sometimes be saved. It also helps to remove telling the clients things about themselves they already know such as "you are 65 years old, married with three kids"... etc.

    In the body of a report, get rid of any guff, any company focused marketing spiel which frequently can appear (why is it even there?) Any charts about performance comparisons (totally unnecessary and if advisers insist on it, put it in the appendices). Keep the risk profile section but make it all about the client and not templated, this will keep it shorter and please anyone reviewing it later on. Reference the appendices if needed but don't specify page numbers as again it isn't required. Remind advisers that the report is not a sales tool (if that applies). Also, quite an obvious one, but make sure the formatting, borders, font sizes and headers are not too large so that space is wasted.

    With all that said, I think a really good report will stand around 8 -10 pages long if it covers off all FCA requirements with a little bit added for peace of mind. Obviously, that doesn't apply to DB transfer reports but that is an entirely different kettle of fish.

    If the appendix has multiple facets to it, then i'd have a contents page for that but also put in place markers / dividers between sections so that the sections can be found easily. I also find that the order of the appendices is crucial in terms of getting some form of engagement from it; leave the long terms and conditions/ key features documents to the end (as well as KIIDs) and put the important bits beforehand that are actually client relevant. Or, if clients have portal access, refer them to the portal and have appendices stored there so there ultimately is no appendix or rather a very short one.

    Hope this is helpful.

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