Firing lineDec 12 2022

'We are only focused on the top 10-15% of advice firms'

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'We are only focused on the top 10-15% of advice firms'
Ed Dymott, managing director – wealth at Benchmark Capital
ByDavid Thorpe

At a time when many consolidators and outsourcers are becoming an increasingly large part of the advice landscape, Benchmark Capital remains something of an enigma.

As a subsidiary of the FTSE 100 giant Schroders, and with a wealth division run by Ed Dymott, a veteran of Aegon, Fidelity and a host of industry committees, Benchmark can hardly be said to be an insurgent. 

The firm has assets under administration of £17bn on the platform and “roughly the same again” via the other channels. 

Dymott presides over an operation that employs some advisers and acquires advice businesses, provides investment management to other advisers, and has a platform and regulatory permissions offering to others.

We don’t really care about the business model as long as they are a quality firm.

Advisers are free to choose from any combination of the above. 

In all, 1,700 or so advisers have a relationship with Benchmark, with 70 of those employed by the company. The business that employs advisers directly was called Aspect8, before rebranding to Benchmark Financial Planning earlier this year.

But such a menu of options may cause advisers considering working with the firm to ponder: is there a grand plan behind it all?

What's the big idea? 

Dymott says: “Our aim is to be a turnkey solution for financial planners. It doesn’t matter to us if it is an exit, or a start-up or a firm looking to grow, we want to work with them all. Whether they want tech, or regulation, or investment management, that’s all fine. And we don’t really care about the business model as long as they are a quality firm.”

Benchmark acquired one advice firm and took a stake in another in November, and Dymott says both of those deals followed the pattern he deploys when investing in advice firms, as both firms have owners looking to retire. 

We think we can increase productivity for advisers.

He says the firms they acquire are typically part of a pipeline of firms “where the owner doesn’t want to retire now, but maybe wants to have a plan for when they retire in three to five years, and a plan where they know the staff and the clients are looked after.

"That’s probably our USP, and differs from maybe the more typical consolidator model. Consolidators are probably more short term in their thinking, their aim is to sell it on in a few years. ” 

Dymott joined the firm in February 2021, and says the other focus of his acquisition strategy has been to “broaden our geographical reach – we weren’t well enough represented in the Midlands, and have tried to address that with some of the deals we have done this year.”