When M&G’s new wealth boss made the move from Colorado to Scotland at the start of 2020, his expectations for how the year would play out were likely far from the reality that ensued.
Plunged into lockdown on the outskirts of Edinburgh in March, David Montgomery faced his latest challenge: helping form M&G’s new £28bn wealth arm.
“It’s all about bringing it together so it’s bigger than the sum of its parts,” says Mr Montgomery, who was announced as the arm’s managing director in September. “The key thing about M&G Wealth is combining well-established organisations that are already there.”
M&G Wealth is a new arm of the giant asset manager made up of Ascentric (the platform recently acquired from Royal London), Prudential Financial Planning and the M&G Direct funds business.
Mr Montgomery points out the “obvious synergies” in such a move. He says: “By bringing the advice business closer to the platform offering, which is then closer to the investment management [arm], we can benefit the entire value chain from an adviser and customer perspective.
“We want to create opportunities for each business, to create opportunities for the group and create opportunities for our clients and customers by bringing all the capabilities together.”
Grow, grow, grow
On the advice side of things, M&G’s goal is to expand its offering as much as possible.
Using its recently imposed self-employed model ‘The Advice Partnership’, or ‘Tap’ for short, Mr Montgomery says the company wanted to rival the likes of St James’s Place and Quilter in the advice space.
He says: “There are a number of ways we will grow. We have a good business that people will recognise, and a good brand, good products and services, so we will try to bring people into Tap on those grounds.
“We will also look at acquisitions, but it would be smaller acquisitions of smaller advice firms who wanted to move into a model like ours.”
M&G recently made the decision to move all its advisers to a self-employed model, with formerly employed advisers of Prudential Financial Planning joining Tap – which is part of Prudential Financial Planning – as self-employed advisers.
Tap, which offers restricted advice and launched in November 2019, initially started with 20 advisers but has since grown to a 230-strong adviser business.
Mr Montgomery says: “We created the opportunity to expand the self-employed Tap model, which will allow us to expand that advice business going from 200 to 350, to 500 advisers – that will be our model for growth.
“Do we want to be an 1,000-adviser business? Yes, but does that happen next year? Probably not. We haven’t put a timeline on it, but we have the ambition to really grow that business.”
For now, M&G is focusing on ensuring the model works and that the advisers already part of Tap are well set up and catered for.