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5 minutes with… Chris Sandfield, CEO of digital investment platform Coinvestor

30 October 2019

In the first of a new series of quick fire interviews with people throughout the financial planning market, we talk to Chris Sandfield, CEO of digital investment platform Coinvestor.

The series will include paraplanners as well as company CEOs. We will be running the series in the magazine and on the Professional Paraplanner website.

A shorter version of this article was first published in the November 2019 issue of Professional Paraplanner.

In a nutshell, what is CoInvestor

CoInvestor is a digital investment platform for tax-efficient products including EIS, VCT, SITR and BPR. We offer both funds and single company investments, all of which are professionally sponsored and managed. Advisers and paraplanners can create an account and start allocating for free in a matter of minutes.

What does the platform offer paraplanners?

CoInvestor is an easy way to access, evaluate, allocate and monitor their clients’ tax-efficient investments all-in-one-place. Our platform offers an opportunity for paraplanners to move off spread sheets and away from a paper-based process for managing tax-efficient investments.

How in particular can CoInvestor make paraplanners’ lives easier?

On research

• Our platform functionality makes it easy for paraplanners to search, filter and discover a range of investment opportunities from leading UK fund managers.

• We work with the managers to create detailed profiles and in-depth information on live investment opportunities to make it easy for paraplanners to review and compare different products.

• We work with research companies to make third party analysis accessible and available on many of our investment opportunities.

On applications

• With our digital applications, paraplanners no longer need to handwrite forms.

• Key client details are remembered and can be pre-populated into applications saving paraplanners from having to re-key the same client information across multiple applications.

On client valuations

• Fund managers can provide client valuations and documents directly into the platform saving paraplanners from having to chase them directly.

• Paraplanners can export reports straight from the platform ready for a client meeting.

How many providers/products are on the platform currently and what are your plans for adding more?

We already have over 50% of all investments available, comprising approximately 40 investment opportunities split across 35 fund managers. We are working with the leading UK fund managers in the tax-efficient sector and are continuously adding new investments. Our aim is to have the market in its entirety available on the platform by the end of this year.

In 2020 we will further grow our marketplace for tax-efficient products and will also expand into other alternative investment areas. For example, private equity, venture capital and property funds.

What third-party analysis is available to help paraplanners with their research?

We have recently started working with Hardman Research and are exploring additional opportunities to provide further research on the funds and more generally on the market itself.

What security is in place in respect of the data held on the platform?

We have a robust permission and access control system built into our application.

We organize annual penetration tests, using independent fully certified penetration testers, to assess the security of our platforms.

Our infrastructure is hosted in the AWS London (EU) region and is designed around the “principle of least privilege”. All data is encrypted at rest and SSL is used on all web traffic. Access to our platform infrastructure and data is tightly controlled.

We utilise a layered security approach, including web application firewalls and active monitoring tools to detect and block suspicious activity.
Detailed audit logs are maintained for all actions & activity carried out on the platform.

We offer our users additional ways to protect their CoInvestor account such as 2-factor login.

What do you see as the future of the market for tax efficient investments over the next few years?

The tax-efficient market has at the moment a number of risks, primarily outside of its control and these are not to be ignored. A change in government or policy for one and Brexit and the resulting knock in investor confidence being another.

From a macro perspective we are also well into late cycle dynamics by any measure and the pressure on both start-ups and early stage businesses to perform in a testing market environment will likely become more acute in the coming months ahead.

Having said all this, with the combination of digitisation and subsequent transparency across the market via our platform and the increase in specialist or niche funds, are making the whole of the market accessible along with true sector diversification now a manageable possibility.

This bodes well for both the funds themselves to access new distribution channels as well as providing the investor with an increase in cross sector opportunities.

The resulting potential risk alleviation that can come from a more balanced portfolio along with transparency and digitisation (also creating significant efficiencies) are positive tail winds for all.

The tax-efficient investment space has weathered headwinds before and with the digitisation of the market now in full flow we are optimistic that the sector will continue to evolve in a positive fashion.

We look forward to spearheading this both for the managed high-quality investments available as well as continuing to meet the evolving needs of both the adviser and investor.

Coinvestor will be presenting at the Newcastle Technical Insight Seminar on Tuesday 26 November and you can also find out more on their website: https://coinvestor.co.uk

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