Advice firm offers to buy closed robo-adviser

Advice firm offers to buy closed robo-adviser

A financial advice firm has offered to buy closed robo-adviser Moola, FTAdviser can reveal.

Richmond Wealth, a firm with offices in the City of London and Northern Ireland, has contacted Moola with the offer to take on some of the staff, and buy some of its assets.

In its response to the offer, seen by FTAdviser, Moola representatives said "We are discussing your query at the moment and will respond to you shortly.”

FTAdviser has previously revealed that Moola had a turnover of less than £900 in its final full year of operations, and lost £1.3m. The company was founded by Gemma Godfrey in 2015, who sold the business to JLT in 2018 and left in 2019. JLT was later bought by Mercer.

The company had seven employees, many based in Northern Ireland, where Richmond Wealth has two offices.

Chris Bryans, managing partner at Richmond Wealth, said: “There are one or two things that are interesting from our perspective. We have recruited staff in different locations in the UK and I have been recruiting staff in London for many years.

"In our experience, the calibre of staff available in Northern Ireland is on average much better than in other places. There are a number of reasons for that, education, demographics and not least quality of life.

"Our Northern Ireland based staff can rent a whole house for less than the cost of a room in London. So when Moola was going to close, we thought that there is an opportunity to approach a highly skilled group of individuals who may be looking for work."

He said his firm had been part of an FCA sandbox initiative to develop a robo-adviser, and acquiring the Moola assets would allow him to accelerate this project.

He said: “The Moola entity and assets would potentially enable us to progress the project much quicker than we might otherwise be able to do, however this would very much depend on the goodwill of the Mercer team in allowing us to take forward their project.

"There is much scepticism around the potential for automated advice processes and we feel there has been too much focus on automated investment processes and not advice."

A Mercer spokesman declined to comment for this story.

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