Your IndustryAug 8 2017

Standard Life eyes advisers' lunch with national expansion

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Standard Life eyes advisers' lunch with national expansion

Standard Life’s advice arm will swing into profit this year as it plots to grow both organically and through acquisition, Barry O’Dwyer has said.

The chief executive of pensions and savings at Standard Life said the company had plans to invest in 1825 to turn it into a nationwide financial advice business.

He said: “It is already a substantial advice business and we are looking to add to that.

“It will grow organically but also I suspect it will acquire more businesses and we are constantly talking to businesses – it is just that none have come to fruition in the first half of this year.

“It has been running at a loss but it will break even in 2017.”

Standard Life began building its advice business, 1825 - named after the year the life company was launched - in May 2015, with the purchase of Pearson Jones' 39 advisers and £1bn in assets from Skipton Building Society.

Then in 2016, 1825 acquired London-based Baigrie Davies, Glasgow-based Munroe Partnership and Crewe-based Jones Sheridan.

In its results today (8 August), 1825 reported it now has 73 financial advisers, with more than 8,600 clients and assets under advice of £3.4bn.

Mr O’Dwyer added that Standard Life is planning for Elevate to make a profit during 2019.

Standard Life published its results for the first half of 2017 earlier today which showed its operating expenses increased by £15m – or 3 per cent – as £29m was added to its cost base through the acquisition of Elevate and its continuing expansion of 1825.

Mr O’Dwyer said Standard Life had plans to bring Elevate into profit through a programme of cost-cutting and increasing its assets under management.

He said: “What we have seen since we bought Elevate is that advisers are taking a lot of reassurance from the fact it is backed by Standard Life and we have seen assets increase.

“It had £10bn on the day we bought it and it is now at £12bn.”

Standard Life’s adviser platforms saw record retail net inflows of £3.4bn in the first half of 2017, with Wrap inflows up 48 per cent to £3.1bn and Elevate inflows up to £600m.

Total assets under administration on its platforms increased by 11 per cent to £49.2bn.

The company said these flows were driven by growth in the pension market, particularly defined benefit transfer values and pension freedoms.

Mr O’Dwyer dispelled concerns about the fact Standard Life is seeing a lot of assets come onto its platform as a result of defined benefit transfers.