Firing line  

SPW boss: 'I have a record of growing businesses'

SPW's maximum initial fee is 1.75 per cent, with 0.65 per cent ongoing fee; this drops to 0.5 per cent or 0.4 per cent, depending on asset size.

Growing business

The business now has 10 regional hubs at various places around the country, including Exeter and Bristol, and undertook a restructuring at the end of last year. The company has also launched an adviser academy last year, of which there are now 70 trainee advisers.

SPW was launched in 2019 and Duckworth is the third chief executive. James Rainbow launched the business and left after a year on the project for a senior job at Schroders. It was then run by Peter Hetherington, who came from online trader IG, and ran it for just eight months before Duckworth joined last September.

On the rapid turnover, Duckworth says: "I can't explain the predecessors," but adds that there has been a natural progression to get the company off the ground.

As of the end of last year, the business had £13.8bn of assets under management. By comparison, 1825, the advice business run by Standard Life Aberdeen had £5.5bn, and Quilter had £48.5bn (excluding platform assets).

He says: "In 2019, the business was focused on gaining its permissions – the team in place did a good job. In 2020, there been a huge amount of client onboarding; 42,000 came into the business. That's exceptional work during a pandemic."

Duckworth will not say what his target AUM is: "My belief is that if you help more clients, the assets will look after themselves."

His philosophy is: "How many clients can we help with a goal-based plan? It doesn't matter whether a client invests £5m or £50,000; the adviser gets paid on how many clients they help and the feedback they get."

Duckworth was at Openwork for 10 years, starting out as commercial development director and becoming chief executive in 2015.

He says: "When I got to Openwork, it had 1,400 advisers and we built that to more than 4,000 advisers. We built the platform and fund range company, and we expanded our mortgage business from £7bn to £19bn. I have a record of growing businesses.

"We will replicate the work we did at Openwork, but the opportunity [at SPW] is unique, you can't get this anywhere else in financial services. The concept that you can get more advice available to anywhere in the UK interests me. I feel very fortunate that we have this opportunity.

"What we're able to build is to really drive client services to a completely different level, and so they all align the same, and feel the same. If Beryl is in Birmingham and she drives to Aberdeen, will she get the same services? I'd like to think so."