Royal London Pensions  

Royal London shuns move to advice despite buying robo-adviser

Royal London shuns move to advice despite buying robo-adviser
Barry O’Dwyer, chief executive of Royal London

The chief executive of Royal London has said the mutual is not interested in entering the advice market despite recently buying robo-adviser Wealth Wizards.

Barry O'Dwyer said Royal London would instead focus on developing "next generation" technology to help advisers - saying platforms solve problems which "no longer exist".

He told FTAdviser the mutual's view was that customers get a better outcome if they take impartial advice, so it will not look to develop its own advice offering.

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O’Dwyer said: "We want to do whatever we can to support the impartial adviser and IFA network. 

"We will take our chances with IFAs. We will compete on having the best product rather than compete on owning the adviser. 

"We are committed to helping advisers rather than providing advice ourselves."

Earlier this week, Royal London bought robo-advice business Wealth Wizards from LV.

The provider said the acquisition meant it could help customers who had joined workplace schemes through auto-enrolment as well as support employers and advisers looking to help employees make better financial decisions.

O’Dwyer told FTAdviser the main reason for buying Wealth Wizards was to help IFAs improve their businesses.

He said: “One of the key lessons we learned in 2020 was that advisers need to invest more in building the digital capability within their business so they are not as exposed to something like a lockdown. 

“Advisers have done this themselves but we think we can bring some technology which would help them to become more resilient and digital and be able to operate on a much more digital footing than they have done to date.”

Royal London is looking to use the intelligence that Wealth Wizards has created to help IFAs digitise their own businesses. 

O’Dwyer said there was a “huge opportunity” in this space because once IFAs hit a certain number of clients their capacity to take on any more becomes limited.

He said the route to solving this is to digitise and have a digital relationship with many clients while keeping face-to-face contact for a small number of the most valuable clients.

“If we can be part of scaling up advice businesses it's good for the UK as more people get advice and hopefully as more people get advice it’s good for Royal London as well as", O’Dwyer said. “When IFAs succeed, we succeed too”.

Last year Royal London sold its Ascentric platform to M&G for £86m.

O'Dwyer said platforms, including Ascentric, were solving a problem which existed 10 to 15 years ago but which "no longer exists".

This being that everyone was dealing on paper and advisers were struggling to cope with the amount of paper in their office. 

But he said this was no longer true and as a result the technology supporting platforms was often 10 to 15 years old.

O’Dwyer said: “We have been investing heavily in our pension systems and we will integrate Wealth Wizards into this.