Consolidator CEO on why rivals are wrong

Consolidator CEO on why rivals are wrong

The chief executive of Attivo has said he is moving his company away from vertical integration, in a move markedly different to many of of his rivals.

Stephen Harper admitted he is going a “different direction of travel” to the rest of the advice industry.

He was speaking after he agreed to sell his company’s discretionary fund management arm to Quilter Cheviot, just five months after selling its Sipp and Ssas business to Talbot & Muir.

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Mr Harper said: “It wasn’t a decision we took lightly. We have now gone in a different direction of travel from what we have been doing for 10 years and to what the industry is doing but there is a real clarity to what we are doing.

“If you ask your clients the difference between independent and restricted advice they would prefer independent advice.

“With our focus on being a chartered independent financial planning firm, transferring our pension business and then our investment business and then having a truly independent proposition is a much more compelling argument.

“It is a brave decision but I feel strongly that it is the right one.”

In recent years a number of companies have moved towards vertical integration, including Standard Life, Old Mutual Wealth and Succession.

He added that being truly independent would make his company more attractive for firms looking to sell their business.

Mr Harper said: “If you have been independent for 20 years and told your client bank and you have been chartered, and you sell your business to a restricted model that’s not chartered, then that’s a backward step for your clients and it’s a hard one.

“I think there is an attraction for those firms that recognise it and those that do will gravitate towards a business like ours.”

Mr Harper said his company was approaching £1bn of assets under advice and would probably reach this milestone in the spring.

He said he would be using the proceeds of the sale to invest in Attivo’s back office functions, in particular the integration of its technology.

Some of the money would also be used for acquisitions, he added.