Zurich platform rebrands as buyout completes

Zurich platform rebrands as buyout completes

The Zurich platform is now called ‘Advance by Embark’ as Embark Group’s acquisition of the retail investment platform has completed.

Embark told FTAdviser it has completed its acquisition of Zurich’s investment and retail platform alongside its authorised corporate director and investment management arm this morning (May 1) and they will now be called Advance by Embark and Horizon by Embark respectively.

The move brings £11bn of platform assets under administration and £600m of multi-asset funds to Embark, along with 130,000 advised clients.

It takes the Embark Group’s assets total to more than £33bn as at today for more than 365,000 clients. According to Embark, this made it the seventh largest player in the advised platform market.

Phil Smith, chief executive of Embark Group, said: “We are very pleased to have successfully concluded these transactions, despite the additional hurdles produced by the Covid-19 environment. 

“Our attention is now firmly on business continuity and servicing our new clients and distribution partners, enhancing the proposition we provide, and continuing to safely grow our competitive presence in this exciting market.”

Embark announced last November it would continue its expansion in the retail platform space with the company’s acquisition of the Zurich platform, after reports in the summer that Zurich was eager to sell the business.

It also followed an agreement for Embark to buy the adviser platform business of Alliance Trust Savings from Interactive Investor, a move that brought £6bn of assets and about 30,000 clients onto the Embark platform.

While clients on the ATS platform were transferred to the original Embark platform, Zurich’s platform remains a standalone platform.

Consolidation has been an increasing feature of the adviser market in recent years. Most recently, Ascentric confirmed it had entered preliminary discussions involving the sale of the Royal London platform business.

Private equity firms have also reared their heads into the platform world. Epiris bought the James Hay platform last year while Wealthtime was snapped up by AnaCap Financial Partners in February.

New leadership

Mr Smith and Phil Bungey, Embark’s chief operating officer, will lead the new platform business alongside two non-executive directors, Priscilla Davies and James Butler.

Ms Davies has more than 25 years’ experience in the financial services world, having spent more than 15 years at Janus Henderson and is currently chairman for UBS Asset Management.

Meanwhile Mr Butler has spent 30 years in the financial sector, having previously chaired the audit committee of Zurich Assurance.

The leadership of Horizon by Embark — Zurich’s ACD business — will be composed of Thomas Rostron as chief executive, previously of Barclays Wealth, and Zurich’s Fraser Blain, who will be chief commercial officer.

Monika Machon and Jacqueline Lowe will “provide continuity” as non-executive directors of the new business, having previously undertaken the role for Zurich.

Jamie Drewett, formerly Head of IFA distribution at Zurich, has been appointed to the role of group head of distribution, leading distributions across all channels and services as a member of the Embark group management team.