Website launched to streamline alternatives research

A cloud-based data aggregator for alternative investments has been launched to help advisers offer the difficult products they “can’t afford to ignore”.

MI Capital Research, or Micap, is an online database of VCT, EIS, SEIS and business property relief products.

Managing director Andrew Marris says he developed the service because the dispersed market for alternative products is difficult for advisers to sift through when helping their clients and still make a profit on the time spent. 

With the products classed as mainstream, IFAs have to show all of market knowledge, but without an online system it can be too inefficient for them to offer the tax-advantaged alternatives, he explains.

 “I’m speaking to the large networks as well who are interested because it offers the chance for a consistent service across all their IFAs.”

That would allay advisers’ concerns about being hit by the regulators or compensation authorities for advising on the assets, he adds.

“This is the burning cole in [adviser networks’] hands.

“This is the sort of thing they don’t want to advise on, but they can’t afford not to advise on.”

He likened the productivity savings for advisers to the difference between booking a holiday online, compared with the much more intensive travel agent visits of the past.

“My take on the market is that it’s in the dark ages. The rest of the market is trying to pull forward and the research is still done in a very pipe and slippers way.”

The website is a subscription service that holds all available information on as many alternative investments as possible, aiming for a substantially “whole-of market” roster.

It allows IFAs to filter the products on investment strategy, asset type and other factors. It also makes a record of the actions taken to provide a paper trail for advisers to use as evidence of their reasoning.

A further update is being developed to make that paper trail even more robust.

Marris has had a varied career in financial services since 1988, including as a stockbroker, financial adviser and an 11-year stint as a derivatives broker for Sunrise Brokers.

Since 2005 he has done consulting and set up several businesses.