CompaniesOct 30 2012

Euro IFA body chief’s firm plans IFA buying spree

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The Inspire Group, a company made up of several financial advice firms, is set to buy up to 20 more IFA firms in the next year and a half, according to Paul Stanfield, Inspire’s marketing director and chief executive of European IFA trade body Feifa.

Currently, the group comprises three IFA firms: Inspire IFA Limited, Moore and York Wealth Management and Inspire Independent Financial Advisers, complemented by Moore and York Corporate Services and a separate wealth management arm.

Mr Stanfield told FTAdviser the company plans to aggressively expand in the last months before the Retail Distribution Review and beyond, with the acquisition spree expected to target advisers that are looking to exit the industry and to last for 12-18 months.

He said: “We are in the process for the purchase of up to 20 UK IFA businesses in the next 12 to 18 months.

“There are a lot of businesses that are either up for sale or open to acquisition. We believe we have a very strong proposition going forward.

“I guess if we were in the position that we were in then we would be interested in growing the business anyway. What RDR has done is drive us all together.

“We have looked at numerous different businesses. Most of them are two or three up to six or seven advisers, but we are also looking at one or two bigger ones.

“You might have retiring principles or principles that don’t want to go ahead as advisers. Sometimes businesses want to carry on but feel their framework will be insufficient come the first of January.

“It’s an interesting environment and one with a great deal of opportunity.”

In his capacity as chief executive of Feifa, Mr Stanfield told FTAdviser that the expected rush of advisory firms leaving the UK and seeking to ‘passport’ in to avoid the most onerous RDR rules has not come to pass.

He said: “Over the last couple of years we have had a situation where we have gone from people saying we could have 50 per cent of IFAs disappearing and that’s gone down to 8 per cent. That’s why we haven’t seen the rapid rise in advisers emerging.

“I know a number of advisers who have moved abroad or intended to, but it hasn’t been as significant an increase as we might have expected two or three years ago.”