Nucleus vows to keep ‘foot on the gas’ despite virus

Nucleus vows to keep ‘foot on the gas’ despite virus
 David Ferguson, chief executive of Nucleus

Nucleus plans to keep its “foot on the gas” this year and build on its “growing momentum” despite the spreading coronavirus crisis, its chief executive has said.

Speaking to FTAdviser, David Ferguson said the wrap platform was carrying on as previously envisaged and had made no changes to its strategy, even as the growing pandemic tumbled markets and shut down businesses.

Mr Ferguson said: “Key developments in the business are still going ahead and should remain unimpacted. The adviser platform market is still growing and strategically sound.

“We do not want to take our foot off the gas. We had nice momentum going into this year that we want to carry on.”

Stuart Geard, chief financial officer, agreed, adding: “We’re growing Nucleus for the next 20 years and we’re not stopping because of this.”

The pair also said they were not concerned about the economic impact of the virus on their business, despite the fact its income was based on its total assets which had dropped by £2bn due to virus-related market falls.

Mr Geard said: “As a regulated firm, we’re required to hold a lot of capital and we’re stress tested frequently, so we have a sufficient cash buffer to withstand the crisis.”

Meanwhile Mr Ferguson looked to the strength of the adviser market as what would keep the business in good stead during the pandemic.

He said: “I would not be surprised if flows slowed down, but we’re not expecting the IFA market to go into meltdown.

“Financial planning will not slow down or stop — at the end of the day, people still need to think about their pension and retirement plans.”

Their comments came after the platform axed its dividend in light of the coronavirus in its yearly results published this morning.

It reported a 16.3 per cent jump in assets under administration alongside increases in its revenue, profits before tax and active adviser numbers.

Since the crisis emerged, some commentators have claimed advice companies would likely emerge from the chaos in a position of strength

Mr Geard agreed. He said the crisis had underscored the need for professional, long-term financial planning and was “for the good of the financial planning industry” in the future.

According to Mr Ferguson, advisers are “entrepreneurial and adaptable” and some behaviours which had been introduced due to the coronavirus would stick. 

He said: “The way they have run their organisations, the way they engage with their clients, becoming more efficient — this will all help.”

When asked about the firm’s growth strategy, Mr Ferguson said its business plan was primarily based on organic growth rather than acquisitions, but added Nucleus would look at any business opportunity which presented itself in the markets.

He would not be drawn on whether Nucleus had looked at Royal London’s Ascentric as a possible buying opportunity.