Winner of the Best Investment Product Provider this year is Octopus Investments, part of the Octopus Group, which specialises in UK smaller companies and tax efficient investments across a range of sectors.
Neil Buckland, Head of Distribution, and Steve Skelding, Head of Wealth Management, explains that since the firm’s last win in 2016, the company has grown considerably. Octopus now manages more than GBP7.5 billion of funds for both retail and institutional investors and employs more than 700 people.
Octopus Investments is focused on working with financial advisers to provide investments that can help their clients reach their financial planning goals. The investment firm, which offers a range of tax efficient investment solutions among other products, has also just closed the UK’s biggest ever venture capital trust (VCT) fundraise with GBP200 million raised into its Octopus Titan VCT plc, the UK’s largest VCT.
In the last couple of years Octopus has developed a fintech arm to create innovative new products and ways of working using technology, and then taking them to market.
Buckland says: “We are carving out part of the business dedicated to innovation and creativity, that can develop financial products that we know advisers and investors are asking for.
Buckland explains that it is partly product related, but also includes building technology designed to help advisers and wealth managers think about how they work and service clients.
For example, Octopus now gives wealth managers access to a discretionary portfolio of property-backed loans, via its peer-to-peer technology solution Octopus Choice. More than GBP150 million has been invested so far, by around 6,800 investors and 900 wealth managers and advisers.
Skelding says: “Many clients are becoming more demanding in how they want to invest and be advised. Some still want face to face meetings while some want a more technology-based relationship.”
“Every month we get heads of different wealth manager businesses into our office,” Buckland says. “We listen to them, ask them what issues they are facing, and discuss our pipeline of new products and ideas. It’s a big driver of the innovation we are trying to bring to life.”
Octopus Investments was the first business Octopus launched in 2000. Since then Octopus has expanded into a number of new sectors taking a customer first approach to product development and service innovation.
Octopus Energy, the direct to consumer energy supply business, has grown rapidly and now has more than 200,000 customers and was awarded the Which? 2018 recommended supplier. The supply business builds on Octopus’ track record in the sector as one of UK’s largest investors in renewable energy assets, which have been a popular area for wealth managers over the past six years.
Octopus is also a recognised champion of UK growth companies. It recently published its third edition of the High Growth Small Business Report, which highlights the economic value of some of the UK’s fastest growing smaller companies. These businesses represent less than 1 per cent of UK business yet account for 20 per cent of all new jobs, and 22 per cent of economic growth.
Buckland added: “Smaller company investing is part of our DNA at Octopus and our expertise in this sector underlies a number of our core product offerings. We absolutely believe in the power of entrepreneurship and the huge benefits it brings to the UK economy. It’s a belief that’s shared across the group, as we look to build businesses that transform sectors and deliver better outcomes for customers.”