Openwork reveals details of expansion plans

Openwork reveals details of expansion plans

Financial advice network Openwork hopes to recruit an additional 250 advisers over the next three years as part of its growth ambitions.

Mike Morrow, wealth and platform director at Openwork, said the network aims to increase the number of wealth advisers in its restricted business from 750 to in excess of 1000 by the end of 2021.

A large part of the recruitment drive will be via the Openwork Academy programme which has trained and qualified 150 advisers since its foundation in 2014, an achievement of which Mr Morrow said he was "really proud".

He said: "I want Openwork to be the go-to hub for people looking to change careers and come into financial services for the first time.

"Where we differ from our competitors is we don’t exclusively focus on the wealth sector, but entrants can also chose the path or mortgages and protection."

Mr Morrow said the process would involve recruiting new firms to the network and exploring opportunities with existing firms in its mortgage and protection businesses.

He said: "We will look towards Owl Financial, our protection only business, to see how best to deploy wealth advice there, and also our mortgage business to encourage people into wealth practice from there."

Last week Openwork appointed Claire Limon as head of recruitment and development, with the task of introducing new advisers to the industry and supporting the network’s training and development programme.

Ms Limon had moved to Openwork from Owl Financial.

Mr Morrow said he sees wealth advice as the most resilient area of the financial services sector to maintain its face-to-face contact with clients.

He said: "There has indeed been a disruption for the marketplace with the growth of robo-advice, but wealth advice is one of the most complex areas and is difficult to disrupt with technology.

"The arrival of the Retail Distribution Review took a lot of advisers out of the market, but we have now bounced back to recruitment levels seen before this regulation was introduced.

"However, there is still a massive demand for wealth advice which is underserved - this gap can only be filled by advisers, not technology."

Mr Morrow said the value of face-to-face advice would "really come into its own" in 2019 when market volatility requires clients to sit down with an adviser who can explain performance and context in the marketplace.

Furthermore, Openwork is eyeing the equity release sector going into 2019, in particular the lifetime income market.

Mr Morrow said: "The market is calling out for more sophistication, we are particularly interested in how property can be used to unlock this and how property assets can be optimised alongside pension assets.

"We have not launched anything yet and are very much still in the embryonic stages, but we think the lifetime income market is really interesting for 2019."