Brooks Macdonald: We’ll never go down robo-advice route

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Brooks Macdonald: We’ll never go down robo-advice route
Brooks Macdonald boss Andrew Shepherd said he was “surprised” Vanguard was closing its financial planning arm in the UK
ByRuby Hinchliffe

Brooks Macdonald’s chief executive has said it will never go down the robo-advice route, suggesting any firm which does would need lots of clients coming through the door.

Andrew Shepherd told FTAdviser he was “surprised” by the news yesterday (March 1) that Vanguard was closing its financial planning arm in the UK.

Signing up 118,000 new customers to its platform last year, Shepherd had reckoned a brand like Vanguard was well-known enough among the mass market to “make a splash”.

Meanwhile, Brooks Macdonald’s focus has been on growing its adviser footprint and developing its technology, but Shepherd stressed that the firm was not interested in fully automating the advice journey.

“For Brooks Macdonald, we’re focused on a different target market [to the likes of Vanguard],” Shepherd explained. “We’re never going to go down the robo-advice route.”

The company migrated to SS&C technology last year, which is now where its platform sits.

The investment manager, which has been buying up advice firms of late, also recently chose Intelliflo as its new technology partner for financial advice. 

It intends to draw in more advisers through its investments in technology - namely its partnership with SS&C, which has more recently seen the group give the provider advice on how it wants the platform to work in the future.

Shepherd said Brooks Macdonald will play its part in promoting financial education among the masses, but this mass market is not one it intends to focus on in the future. 

The chief executive said banks “could and should” be doing a lot more to connect people with financial advice too.

MPS service grows at ‘pace’

Today (March 2), Brooks Macdonald published its half-year results for the latter six months of 2022.

Shepherd said profits were “bang on expectations”.

The group’s profit before tax was £9.8mn during the period, down from £13.2mn in the last comparable period.

Shepherd acknowledged the tough markets in the latter half of last year. Investment performance across the group’s funds was up at 1.4 per cent, compared to the MSCI PIMFA Private Investor Balanced Index of -0.3 per cent.

The company’s model portfolio service saw funds under management grow by £600mn over the second half of last year, from £2bn to £2.6bn.

Shepherd told FTAdviser this service was now tracking an annualised growth rate of 64 per cent, compared to 60 per cent previously.

“We’ve increased in pace,” said Shepherd. He put growth down to the service being neither the cheapest nor most expensive, long-term performance and the firm having its own advice arm which means it understands advisers.