Bill Vasilieff has just turned 66, and although it has only been a month since he finished up as chief executive of Novia – the adviser platform he helped build from scratch – he already knows he is not retiring.
Vasilieff says his exit from Novia means “I don’t have to work on anything I don’t want to do. I collected my pension for the first time last week, but I would also like to keep working on things I enjoy”.
Two of the projects he has on the go are his continued chairmanship of Novia Global, a separate business to the Novia platform in the UK, as well as a role with a drinks company, and one other, which he is not yet able to disclose. He is also a shareholder in the Tavistock business.
He says: “I am not retiring, I am just changing tack. Novia Global is a business that works with the offshore advice market. I think in addition to my experience as a marketing person, I can bring a lot of general business experience as well. That’s what I want to do. I’ve worked at a couple of start-ups now, and that is something which teaches you a lot. I want to work on things that catch my imagination, I am not interested in being just a run of the mill NED (non-executive director).”
Vasilieff originally trained as an actuary, but never practised in that field, and instead began working in marketing for life insurance companies, and then spent eight years at fund manager M&G until 2001, culminating in a spell as head of product development.
It was in this role he first entered the world of platforms, being involved in the creation of the original Cofunds platform.
He says: “I worked on the original Cofunds for about four months, and then a colleague left, and a few other colleagues left to join him and create Selestia, which was a very early platform. It was backed by Old Mutual, and when they subsequently bought Skandia and decided to merge the two together, I set off to raise some money to launch a platform.”
That quest began in 2006 and by 2009 the platform was launched.
Vasilieff was there during the "big bang" moments when the platform industry was essentially created, but he has also been a player in the wave of consolidation that has been sweeping through the market in recent years.
Novia was sold to AnaCap in December 2020, and was the private equity company’s third such acquisition in the space. That deal took AnaCap's assets under administration past £11bn.
Vasilieff is adamant that such consolidation is not necessary, but says the opportunities are so attractive that private equity have come in.
He says: “This is not just about cheap money. The private equity firms love consolidation in an industry.