Embark targets IFA deals in growth push

Embark targets IFA deals in growth push

The Embark Group is eyeing partnership deals with large independent financial advice firms as part of its plans to boost its multi-asset fund range.

Thomas Rostron, chief executive officer at Horizon by Embark, said its five-strong multi-asset fund range was a “key part of growth plans” for the company and that he could see the funds’ size “accelerating to come closer to its larger competitors”.

As part of the group’s growth strategy for the funds, Embark is looking to create “partnerships with larger IFA groups” and extend the number of financial advisers the fund arm already works closely with.

Mr Rostron said: “We think [Horizon] is a great investment solution for our customers and an attractive proposition.

“The funds have a total AUM of £660m, but I would like to see several hundred million inflows every year into the funds and can envisage a steady but nice growth of the range over the coming years.”

Embark had also expanded the funds’ platform reach in the past few months — meaning the funds are now available on roughly half of the adviser platforms — and expanded the communication and marketing of the products.

“We have been very proactive going out to the market in the last few months, providing more information and training with our partners,” Mr Rostron said. “We’ve seen a lot of interest because of the funds’ strong performance.”

Earlier this month, all five of the Horizon funds were awarded a five-crown marker by FE Fundinfo’s rating service, based on their strong historical performance.

The Embark Group acquired Horizon, the authorised corporate director of the fund range, as part of its deal with Zurich when it took over the Zurich platform, now named Advance by Embark.

Horizon oversees the risk-rated funds, but outsources the strategic asset allocation to EValue and the active asset management of the range to Columbia Threadneedle.

According to FE Analytics, Embark Horizon Multi-Asset III — the middle of the risk-rated range — is among the best performers in the IA Mixed Investment 40-85 per cent Shares sector over a three-year and five-year period, returning 49 per cent since 2015 compared with the sector’s 38 per cent return.

Mr Rostron said the group had tried to make the funds “reasonably priced”. The management fee for the fund comes to 75bps for most advisers, but those with more than £10m on the Zurich platform receive the funds for 65bps.

The “idea of the funds”, which are sold exclusively through financial advisers, are to be “simple investment solutions” for people who want to accumulate personal assets for long-term savings.

He added: “Our philosophy is to be as diversified as possible. We engage with EValue and Columbia Threadneedle and give a long-term brief to diversify.

“The coronavirus crisis and the volatility we’ve seen underlines the need for retail and affluent investors to have a properly diversified portfolio. This has only underlined the attraction of the multi-asset funds.”