Nucleus  

Four out of 10 advisers would buy a rival

Four out of 10 advisers would buy a rival

The appetite for advice firms to acquire rival businesses remains undimmed despite the uncertainties in the industry, according to research from Nucleus.

The platform spoke with around 200 advisers, and 42 per cent expressed an interest in acquiring a rival firm.

This is an increase on the 37 per cent of advisers who expressed an interest in acquiring a business last year.

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In contrast the number of advisers interested in selling up within the next five years is 35 per cent, while 30 per cent have no interest in selling their business.

The data can be seen in the context of a wave of consolidation sweeping the adviser market, with firms such as Quilter and 1825 acquiring businesses.

The survey found that more than four out of 10 advisers have a succession plan for the business when they retire, this is a steep increase on the 25 per cent of advisers who told Nucleus they had a succession plan when the survey was conducted last year.

One in 10 of the advisers spoken to by Nucleus said succession planning was an immediate concern for their business.

Barry Neilson, chief customer officer at Nucleus, said: "The challenge of succession is to ensure a smooth transition for staff and clients, minimising disruption and risk, all the while addressing the entirely reasonable financial interests of the founder – something that can be a tricky balancing act.

“It is clear advisers have, therefore, been put off by some of the stories of acquisitions by large consolidators.

"Many are discovering that a sale to a like-minded firm is the most likely way to ensure a consistent experience for clients. Some advisers may fear that the years of trust and loyalty built with these clients could be eroded quickly by a sale to a large consolidator."

Last month bosses at advice firm consolidator AFH revealed they had seen an increasing number of companies that derive most of their new business from defined benefit transfers, and warned this would act as a "significant flag" against it buying the business.

The company's chief executive, Alan Hudson, said while there was no set policy against buying firms which had this business model, it would be a concern.

He said: "I had a fact find pass across my desk the other day that had a huge number of DB transfers but, more importantly, the majority of those were insistent clients so it will come as no surprise that we didn't invite them in for a chat."

Paul Gibson, managing director of Granite Financial Planning in Aberdeen, said: "Given the age profile of advisers I suspect consolidation in the market will continue.

"I think being truly independent has always been quite hard and the regulatory burden shows no signs of slowing.

"That said the smart use of technology can definitely help and I don't envisage independent firms dying out any time soon.”

david.thorpe@ft.com