Q. Are there any tips for putting the submission together?
A. Yes, the Chair of the Presiding Judges Mary Duke has outlined some useful tips for entrants on how to build a strong submission. Details can be found here.
Q. Can non-members of STEP enter the Awards?
A. Yes, the Awards are open for both members of STEP and non-members. The judging process is robust and it makes no difference to your entry whether you are a member of STEP or not. The only Award not open to non-members is the Trusted Advisor of the Year Award; this is for full STEP members only.
Q. What countries do you accept entries from?
A. All categories are open internationally. The Presiding Judges Panel includes experts from Barbados, Brazil, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Italy, Jersey, Singapore, Switzerland, the UAE, the UK and the USA.
Q. Are appendices included in the word count for the submission?
A. Yes. All text within the document including links to external references (excluding criteria headers/headers on the submission templates) will be counted in the word count, including the appendices. Please ensure your entry is no more than 1,100 words. Entries of over 1,100 words will not be accepted by the judges. We would suggest scaling the appendices back or leaving them out altogether if possible.
Q. Can URL links be included in the submission?
A. No, as of 2021, URL links are not permitted within the submission.
Q. Is there a fee to enter the STEP Private Client Awards?
A. No, we do not charge an entry fee to enter the STEP Private Client Awards. We do, however, ask firms to consider donating to our awards charity. Donations last year ranged from GBP 150 to GBP 2,000 per entry. You will receive instructions on how to make your donation once your entry has been received by the Private Client Awards Team.
Q. Can a firm enter the Awards if one of the Presiding Judges is a representative from the same firm?
A. Yes. Where this is the case, to avoid conflicts of interest, the relevant judge will be excused from judging the relevant category(ies).
Q. Can a firm win an Awards category two consecutive years running?
A firm/individual is eligible to win up to three consecutive years in a particular category; in the fourth year, those winners will be excluded from entering and will be eligible to enter again in the fifth year. This rule does not apply for subsidiary/affiliate firms or teams based in different jurisdictions.
Q. Can you enter the Awards as two joint-venture companies with different trading names?
A. The Private Client Awards do not currently accept entries from joint-venture companies with different trading names.
Q. Can a firm put forward multiple entries for the same category?
A. For larger organisations, entries may be made, and indeed are welcomed, from one particular office or region of a larger team. Multiple entries by difference offices, teams or regions within the same firm for the same category are not precluded. However, such entries will need to clearly explain why multiple entries are appropriate: experience shows that multiple entries from the same firm can count against that firm.
Q. What time on Friday 23 April does the Awards entries close?
A. The Awards close on midnight in the country the entrant is entering.
CATEGORIES AND CRITERIA
Q. Why is there no Philanthropy Team category this year?
A. As the popularity of the Awards has grown, the demand for categories has also increased. To avoid excessive numbers of categories, a rotation system has been introduced for those categories that have historically received fewer entries, to allow for other categories to be included. As a result, the Philanthropy Team of the Year category is rotated annually with the Charity Team of the Year. To view the current list of categories for the 2021/22 Awards, please click here.
Q. We are looking to enter the Investment Team of the Year category, should the performance data be gross or net of fees?
A: Returns must be provided net of fees including third part fund fees, transaction and custody costs, thus a fair approximation of the results experienced by a client. Some firms use a tiered fee scale, so lower % for higher investment amounts; in this case a sensible fee level should be applied that is comparable to the average/mean client portfolio in the selected strategy.
Q. We would like to enter our Model Portfolios, of which we have six categories, for the Investment Team of the Year category. Do we need to provide a data sheet for each portfolio, or just select a couple of the categories? Can multiple portfolio entries be submitted within the same entry or should these all be submitted separately?
A. It is fine to submit model data, however you would need to select your ‘flagship strategy’, not six strategies as outlined. Each submission is thereafter based on the performance of the flagship strategy and this makes comparison across investment managers more relevant. Most investment managers submit one of their cautious, managed or growth data sets.
Q. We are looking to enter the Investment Team of the Year category. For the Quantitative Section it says your answers should refer to the past year, please can you confirm the dates.
A. The quantitative data should reflect from (Jan 2018-Dec 2020). The 1,100 word submission should reflect from 1 May 2020 - 23 April 2021.
Q. We are looking to enter the Investment Team of the Year Category, our firm is a provider of investments that qualify for BPR, can you confirm if the Award is aimed towards financial advisors or investment managers?
A. The Investment Team of the Year Award category is intended for investment managers rather than financial advisors. Specialist investment solutions, which largely seek to address a taxation aspect, are not strictly what is intended for this category.
Q. The Investment Team of the Year category states that details of a "Medium Risk" strategy should be provided, but what does "Medium Risk" mean in the context of the STEP Awards?
A. Please follow the methodology of a medium risk portfolio as used by the MPI Indices. This method focuses on maximum drawdown and volatility expectations of a portfolio over a full market cycle under "normal" market conditions. By way of guidance, due to the increased volatility experienced in 2020, portfolios in the medium risk category typically experienced volatility of between 6% - 10% over the submission period (Jan 2018-Dec 2020).
Q. We already contribute our performance data to MPI; can you just use the same data?
A. Yes we can, please tell us the strategy/model you wish to submit and we will ask MPI to use that data for your submission.
Q. Please can you define what STEP classifies as a fee earner in order for us to better understand which category we qualify for?
A. A fee earner refers to a practitioner who takes on cases and charges a fee to the client for such work. A solicitor is a fee earner, a barrister is a fee earner, a legal executive is a fee earner. A legal secretary is not, on the face of it, a fee earner, neither is a Legal Cashier, a Practice Manager, a PA or a receptionist.
Q. Please can you define what STEP classifies as an "Advocate"?
A. Advocate of the Year is particularly aimed at individuals who are working in a chambers (i.e. self-employed) or a chambers-like environment. While employed-advocates (e.g. those working in a solicitors' firm) are not precluded from entering, the award is designed to recognise individual rather than team performance, so employed advocates may be better advised for their team to enter one of the team categories. Employed advocates who wish to enter will need to explain clearly what distinguishes their personal performance from that of their team.
Q. Do you have more information or a steer on what is expected of applications for the Vulnerable Client Advisor of the Year Award?
A: For all categories, the full guidelines and criteria to follow can be found at categories. STEP are unable to offer any further guidance on an individual category basis, however we recommend using the five criteria as a header for each section of the submission and following these closely. We also recommend concentrating on what the advisor/team has achieved over the past year that makes them stand out as the best in the field. See "How to win a STEP Private Client Award''.
Q. What is the definition of a Vulnerable Client?
A: A Vulnerable Client for the purpose of the Awards is defined as: a client who has capacity to make decisions and provide you with instructions, but by reason of a range of mental and/or physical disabilities requires enhanced support to engage your services and give you instructions; a client who lacks mental capacity to make decisions and provide you with instructions, and for whom a range of statutory and other safeguards must be followed; and a client who is vulnerable to undue influence or duress and who may or may not have mental capacity to make decisions and provide you with instructions. Please click here to view the full criteria.
Q. Can a firm nominate more than one Young Practitioner for the Young Practitioner of the Year Award?
A. Yes a firm can nominate more than one practitioner from the same firm, you would need to put forward an individual submission for each nominee.
Q. We are looking at entering the Private Client Legal Team of the Year Category, on criteria 1 it asks to highlight key cases (no more than three). Do the cases have to have started within the time period allocated of 1 May 2020 to 23 April 2021 or can they have started prior to this time and are completed within this time period?
A. A substantive part of the case you refer to must have taken place in the period 1 May 2020 to 23 April 2021. The judges will be alive to cases where only a small part of the case is during that period (for instance some small post-completion wrapping up) and may mark down accordingly. Entrants should be wary of using the same case that they have used in previous years’ submissions as we want the awards to be “of the year”, so receiving credit more than once for the same case is not in the spirit of what we are judging. If entrants do wish to use the same case twice, then there should be some novel development in it (e.g. a subsequent court appeal that has reversed a previous judgement) otherwise the submission may be marked down by the Judges.
Q. How and when will the Awards Ceremony take place?
A. In light of continued disruption as a result of the pandemic, particularly taking into consideration the international nature of the event, we will once again be holding a virtual STEP Private Client Awards ceremony this year. While we are disappointed not to be able to get together in person, the virtual event provides a fantastic platform to showcase excellence within our industry to a global audience. Wherever you are, save the date (23 September) - we look forward to celebrating with you. Details on how to register for the ceremony will follow in the coming weeks. Please click here if you want to be notified on any updates relating to the Awards Ceremony.