Curtis Banks looking for more acquisitions

Curtis Banks looking for more acquisitions

Self-invested personal pension (Sipp) provider Curtis Banks is looking at the quality of books instead of Sipp numbers when considering further acquisitions.

Rupert Curtis, group chief executive of Curtis Banks, told FTAdviser that potential acquisitions of other providers’ books “is not a dead subject”.

He said: “Conversations take place all the time. […] When we get to a point we can report we will do so.”

The company has grown rapidly in the last few years through acquisitions, with the Suffolk Life deal being the last example of this strategy.

According to Mr Curtis, the consolidation of the Sipp market has slowed down due to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) new capital adequacy rules, which came into effect last year.

He said: “But we still see opportunities, […] and with the experience that we have built over the years we think that we are very well placed to take advantage of those.”

Will Self, deputy chief executive of Curtis Banks, said the provider is looking at the quality of the book rather than the numbers.

He said: “We look at the quality of the underlying business, which usually stems from two areas - the quality of the assets and the terms and conditions, and the quality of the customer experience with that product.”

If both these conditions are met, the provider will then analyse the compatibility of the book with its own organisation, and assess how commercially viable these Sipps are, he added.

According to Alistair Cunningham, financial planning director at Surrey-based Wingate Financial Planning, “not all growth is good growth”.

He said: “It is desirable that Curtis Banks are focusing on organic growth and only the highest quality acquisitions.

“My suspicion is the Sipp market will continue to consolidate and in turn other opportunities will arise.”

Curtis Banks announced its six-month results on Monday (4 September), which saw its pre-tax profits grow to £5m, an increase of 85 per cent.

Part of these results can be attributed to Suffolk Life, which is now integrated in Curtis Banks’ structure.

With a single group structure and management committee, the company will now start to align the key policies and procedures across the entire firm, Mr Self said.

The two companies “still have a different number of products and prepositions in the marketplace,” which means that this part of the process with take place over the next 12 to 18 months, he added.

According to Mr Self, Curtis Banks is now trying to rationalise its number of products, which is somewhat related to branding.

He said: “Six months ago, we were still offering business through acquired brands such as Pointon York, [European Pensions Management Limited] EPML and others. We have now closed those acquired brands to new business and we are now just writing business under our two core entities, Suffolk Life and Curtis Banks.

“The intention would be, under a number of legal caveats around the different structures that we have, consolidate that further.