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Questions raised by increase in IFAs for sale

Questions raised by increase in IFAs for sale

Six IFA firms and client banks are up for sale in Essex and East Anglia, but opinions are divided over whether this may signal advisers’ nervousness over the next wave of European regulation.

The six firms for sale, which are advertised on RetiringIFA.com, are made up of one firm for sale in East Anglia and five for sale in Essex.

Kevin Bray, IFA at EC Financial Services in Chelmsford, Essex, flagged the businesses for sale on adviser forum IFA Life, posting that this was the “first time I have seen six IFA businesses for sale in Essex/East Anglia at the same time.”

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He said: “I’m interested because we are in Chelmsford and we’re looking at who our competitors are. If some are selling up that would be of interest to us. That might leave some clients orphaned.”

Henry Blunt, managing director of RetiringIFA.com, which is based in Ripon, North Yorkshire, said the number of sales was not down to the sunset clause.

The sunset clause refers to trail commission paid to advisers for on-platform business, both new and legacy, which the FCA has banned from April 2016.

He said those wishing to leave the industry because of the sunset clause, which would result in a loss of revenue for them, did so towards the end of last year.

Mr Blunt said the current number up for sale on his site was given the length of time it takes for deals to complete, which he said usually took between three to six months with clients then handed over to the buyer.

He added: “If clients aren’t sunset ready. It is a terrible time to come to market.”

Mr Blunt predicted it would now be Mifid II which would herald an increase in firms exiting.

The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive is part of European Union legislation regulating firms providing services to clients linked to shares, bonds, units in collective investment schemes and derivatives, and the venues where those instruments are traded.

With consumer protection at its heart, Mifid II ups the ante on the process advisers have to go through before a client invests, including quarterly reporting.

Advisers and wealth managers will also have to identify the target market for products.

There will also be a requirement to report losses greater than 10 per cent, and the same on an instrument basis if it is leveraged.

Mr Blunt said: “That will see the next big exit because of the cost.”

However Chris Hannant, director general at the Association of Professional Financial Advisers, said Mifid II would not result in an IFA exodus.

He said: “As with a lot of Mifid II, until we see implementation of measures from commission, it is a bit like nailing jelly to the wall.

“I personally don’t think Mifid II will lead to a large scale exodus from the industry. It doesn’t have the scale of impact the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) did.”