Sanlam mulling launch of D2C proposition

The firm’s chief executive said it was looking to develop the proposition as part of the firm’s move from its Welsh roots to become a national “advice-led and goal-based financial planning business”, adding that it would be a valuable resource to secure future advised clients.

He said: “We are looking at a low-cost proposition, offering a light-touch service. It would need investment, but for an organisation like ours which is backed by Sanlam, it’s an achievable, realistic and necessary aim which we hope to develop soon.”

Mr Morley was previously chief executive of Worcestershire-based advisory firm English Mutual, and took over from Nigel Speirs as chief executive of Sanlam Private Wealth when the two businesses merged last year.

As part of the merger, Sanlam Private Wealth suspended its award-winning graduate training programme and, in a significant shift from its North Wales roots, has moved its headquarters from Denbighshire to the South West of England.

Mr Morley said: “We are no longer a North Wales-based firm. We are a national firm with a strong regional presence, which includes a North Wales branch office.”

He added that the firm had acquired “half a dozen businesses” since the merger, spending £10m.

In a thinly-veiled criticism of the activities of large IFA consolidators, he said: “We are here for the duration. It must be awful building a business you are eventually going to sell.

“We are not a consolidator or an asset gatherer. You have to be commercial but if you don’t service your clients properly they will cease to be your clients.”

Mr Morley conceded the merger of the two firms had presented cultural issues, with some staff departures. However, the firm still employs 100 advisers following a recruitment drive, with plans to recruit another 25 this year.

He also defended English Mutual’s pre-merger financial performance, when it posted a pre-tax loss of more than £335,000 for 2012 – stating it had been expected after a “heavy investment on the back-office and paraplanning side” which saw it recruit almost 20 paraplanners.

Sanlam Private Wealth: Timeline

1989: General insurance broker Buckles Ltd in Rhyl, Denbighshire, bought by Nigel Speirs, who eventually develops it into an IFA firm

2001: Buckles launches graduate recruitment programme

2008: South African-based Sanlam buys 60 per cent of what was now Wales’ largest IFA firm

2011: Buckles rebrands as Sanlam Private Wealth

2013: Merges with Worcestershire-based advisory firm English Mutual

2013: Nigel Speirs steps aside for new role at Sanlam UK, and is replaced as chief executive of Sanlam Private Wealth by Alex Morley