Network 

Asset manager plans to snap up small advice firms

Asset manager plans to snap up small advice firms
 Anthony Carty, financial planning director at Clifton Asset Management Group

Clifton Asset Management has made the first acquisition in its plans to build a regional network of small advice businesses, which it hopes will have £1bn of assets under management within the next five years. 

Clifton announced its acquisition of Shrewsbury-based Plan For Life Wealth Management today (June 10), as part of its strategy to "disrupt the established advisory firm acquisition model". 

Anthony Carty, financial planning director at Clifton Asset Management, said the deal was the first in a series of "targeted" acquisitions for the group, as it looks for firms with an exit strategy in place over the next two to five years. 

He said Clifton is currently in deal talks with a dozen smaller firms, of which he expects six or seven deals to come to fruition in the next 18 to 24 months. 

Mr Carty said: "The grand vision is to achieve within next the five years £1bn Aum across the network.

"We deliberately focus on smaller acquisitions in terms of client numbers and Aum to manage the deal properly, it is much easier to make a mistake on the bigger acquisitions.

"We have spent years developing our capability, both with resources and technically. We believe we have a model which will appeal to advisers who simply want to concentrate on providing the best outcomes for their clients." 

Smaller companies can join the Clifton model through acquisition or appointed representative status, giving them access to services and products under the Clifton umbrella.

Clifton hopes its network will allow advisers to compete with larger rivals, by providing "hi-tech solutions at low cost" - as the firm has a fee cap on its own investment platform and own DFM proposition.

Clifton will also provide access to back-office functionality, a service it hopes will allow advisers to run more efficiently and navigate regulation more easily.

Mr Carty said the 'network' model would afford the firm the opportunity to introduce its proposition and platform to new joiners to make sure it works for them.

He said: "It can be a leap of faith and you hope you are selling to the right firm, wanting to make sure if 12 months after retirement you bump into old clients [you] feel satisfied they are being looked after properly." 

Mr Carty added: "When looking at our own back office scenario, because we built it bespoke it does not have the same licensing costs associated with the usual back office suspects and all of that added together helps keep the cost base low." 

Russell Beesley, founder of Plan For Life Wealth Management, said: "Clifton’s focus on the client journey and use of technology where appropriate, means my clients can look forward to developing their financial plans with a safe pair of hands.

"Plan For Life will continue to trade under its own brand and retain ownership of their clients with Clifton providing additional systems, technical support and expertise to future-proof the business."

rachel.addison@ft.com