As a former investment banker who has acted on IPO and acquisition deals involving Virgin Mobile and Fitness First, David Currie is not a man to be sniffed at.
His 20-year career history working for Investec would have been one of the key factors behind Foster Denovo chief Roger Brosch’s decision to bring him on board.
As the advice firm kickstarts its acquisition drive, Mr Currie is looking for good business owners who are contemplating retiring or selling up because of increased regulatory and technological costs.
Under his remit, he will also be instrumental in looking for sources of funding.
Mr Currie said: “Part of the relationship is to be a sounding board for Roger; someone who is not so close to the detail, but with relevant experience, so that when he is facing issues in the business he has someone to bounce ideas off.
“In my 20 years in investment banking, we were advising smaller to mid-cap companies on merger and acquisition (M&A) fundraising [and] IPOs – all the things that will be relevant to Foster Denovo in the coming few years.”
Mr Currie explained regulatory pressure is forcing many company bosses to review the future of their businesses.
He said: “More firms want to sell. You might find a relatively small group of people who think they are now getting a bit bigger and that means they can no longer spend time servicing clients, which is why I see us as a facilitator.
“Foster Denovo has all those facilities in place and can take the heavy lifting more centrally, so advisers can spend more time with their clients.
“Business owners might be looking to retire within three to five years and are saying: ‘I want my clients to be looked after. I don’t want to disappear straight away. If I go to the consolidator I could be spat out.’ At Foster Denovo we are very open about it being several years of transition.”
Mr Currie is keen to let interested firms know that Foster Denovo does not fall into the consolidator camp. This is because the business places a lot of emphasis on providing a very much adviser-driven service, enabled by technology.
He said: “There are companies in the market seen as consolidators and those are very much a numbers play. They get businesses together, get a number of advisers, cut costs and force clients to move across to drive those efficiencies. There are a few of those, but that is not what we want to be.”
“Any [client] movements will be done gradually and with their interests at heart.”
Well placed for growth
In a recent Companies House filing, the firm said that it saw pension freedoms and regulatory changes driving growth in the advice market. Corporate clients also needed financial education.
“The scale and resources available to the company mean that it is well placed to take advantage of resulting opportunities as they arise, as a result of these trends,” it added.