Jade Connolly has found that responding quickly to big changes has been one of the key tenets to her role at Ascot Lloyd.
After joining the business in November 2016, Ms Connolly she was brought in to review and develop Ascot Lloyd’s advice processes and advice panels. She was tasked with implementing the same level of consistency across 11 offices, overseeing the review of each investment product and the centralisation of the research process.
But by mid 2017, the business had started to go through a massive change. Ascot Lloyd, a whole of market financial advice firm was bought by Oaktree Capital Management and merged with restricted advice firm Bellpenny.
The latter half of the year was spent re-reviewing the panel work earlier in 2017 and bringing that in line with the Bellpenny side of the business. The focus was on working with external research providers, and liaising with the compliance team within Bellpenny to upskill 40 plus advisers to work on new products they had not necessarily been advising on before. From January 2018 the combined entity launched as an independent firm with just short of 100 advisers.
One proposition, one delivery – one mission
Ms Connolly, who became strategy and acquisitions manager in January, said: “The advisers are working from one service proposition, one advice panel and one method of delivery. We have brought in additional staff, such as a training and development manager, and that was really the first sign that the business had stabilised because we are now investing again in the learning and training of advisers.”
The integration of Ascot Lloyd and Bellpenny may be complete, but the work continues as the business forges ahead with new plans. Following the Patient Capital Review at the end of 2017, which had a bearing on the future of enterprise investment schemes (EIS), Ascot Lloyd is planning to change the providers it uses.
Historically, investors who put their money in EISs got a tax break because the investments were perceived to be high risk. For example, when the government pushed for greater energy efficiency they did not want to use taxpayers’ cash to fund billions of solar investments, so solar schemes were developed. But such products that existed in a niche market became more mainstream, and investors got tax breaks for products where risk had been minimised. The government tried to introduce new restrictions, and when these did not have the desired result, the results of the Patient Capital Review led to principle-based tests.
“The problem with rules is it is easy to find a way around them, so HMRC [HM Revenue & Customs] is reviewing EIS applications based on this principles-based test,” Ms Connolly added.
“We see it as a good thing because the government could have said ‘we are going to get rid of EIS relief’, which would have been a disaster. We do not intend to deal with any provider who is trying to work around the principles-based test. In the main, we are going to go back to high-risk technology-based companies, where there is true risk to investment and it is speculative.”