Schroders denies buying businesses to boost inflows

Schroders denies buying businesses to boost inflows

Schroders does not regard itself as a vertically integrated firm and has denied it is buying businesses to boost inflows into its funds.

The investment manager, which owns shares in an advice business and a technology provider to advice firms, this morning (26 July) reported net inflows of £1.2bn into its wealth management division for the first half of the year.

Of this, £700m came from the Benchmark Capital business, which owns, among other assets, the Aspect8 advice firm.

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This chunk of inflows in the six months to 30 June was larger than the total of inflows into Schroders' wealth management business in the same period in 2017, before the Benchmark acquisition, which was £600m.

But James Rainbow, co-head of the intermediary business at Schroders, was anxious to dismiss the idea that Schroders was buying inflows when it paid £85.6m for a majority stake in Benchmark in 2017.

Mr Rainbow said: "Schroders is not a vertically integrated firm. Being vertically integrated implies that the advice given is provided by the same organisation that sells the investment product. But that is not the case with Schroders.

"The advice given is independent, Aspect8 is not a restricted advice firm, it is an independent adviser.

"There is no compulsion to recommend a Schroders product, and the same applies to the Cazenove business, there is no compulsion for the people who work in that business to select Schroders products."

Schroders has three board directors on the board of Benchmark, which is based in Horsham. 

In addition to housing the advice firm, Benchmark is also a technology provider to advice firms.

Mr Rainbow said: "Any client of benchmark should feel assured that all decisions made by the firm are done to be in the best interests of the client as an individual and to ensure suitability."

He said the performance of the Benchmark business since acquisition was satisfactory.

He said he regards the business as a "diversifier" to the rest of the Schroders UK business, with technology and wealth management businesses less sensitive to market movements than the core Schroders business of fund distribution.   

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) expressed concern about the increasing prevalence of vertically integrated firms and potential conflicts of interest in its final report into the asset management market, which was published in June last year.