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Octopus Investments CEO: Advice firm acquisition not off the table

Octopus Investments CEO: Advice firm acquisition not off the table
Ruth Handcock

The chief executive of Octopus Investments has not ruled out buying adviser firms as part of its expansion plans in the future.

Ruth Handcock told FTAdviser there were no limits when it came to expanding the firm’s offering.

“I get excited about more and more ways you can help people get more out of their money and reduce the stress they feel in managing their money,” she said.

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“Nothing is off the table.”

Handcock also said she recognised an “advice” gap for people who want help managing their money but are not ready to see a financial adviser yet.

This was why Octopus bought Hatch Financial Coaching last year, which has since been rebranded as Octopus Moneycoach.

The financial coaching firm offers robo-guidance as well as face-to-face assistance for those who benefit from a human relationship to help them make financial decisions, but don’t yet have sufficient assets or complex needs that warrant traditional advice.

“I think robo-advisers help for investors who are self-directed, [but] there are a huge number of people who still want to have a conversation and get a money plan that works for them,” Handcock said.

“At some point [in the future], their situation will be complicated enough that financial advice is the right answer for them.”

Prices for Octopus Moneycoach start at £20.75 a month, with the option to commit to a salary sacrifice to save on tax.

Meanwhile, Handcock said she found the dwindling number of financial advisers “terrifying”.

“There will always be a demand for advisers, but there is now more demand than there is supply.

“We know more advisers who are leaving than joining and that’s terrifying,” she said.

“I don’t believe that at any point in the future robo-advice will be the answer for everyone, just as I don’t believe you’ll get therapy from a computer.”

Private market success

Handcock joined Octopus Investments, which is part of Octopus Group, as chief customer officer in July 2018, and was promoted to chief executive officer eight months later.

She joined from Tandem Bank, a challenger bank in the UK, where she was chief customer officer and chief of staff for four years.

Octopus Investments has grown under Handcock’s supervision and offers a plethora of services across property financing, healthcare infrastructure, multi manager and smaller company investments, venture capital and renewable energy investments.

The firm has had particular success with its VCT fundraises, including its flagship Octopus Titan VCT which raised £200m in 28 days last year.

On Monday (January 31), the firm launched its first new VCT in 10 years, which will invest in early-stage firms that are disrupting industries and ‘driving positive outcomes’ for the planet and society.

The vehicles have gained popularity in recent years due to the attractive tax breaks and potential for income they offer. They offer up to 30 per cent income tax relief, as well as tax-free dividends and a £200,000 allowance.