IFA network advocates firm ‘independence’ amid M&A climate

IFA network advocates firm ‘independence’ amid M&A climate

IFA network ValidPath has added a tagline in an effort to stress the ‘independence’ of its member firms against the backdrop of industry consolidation.

The network, which is home to 75 advice firms, said its new brand statement ‘Independence is Everything’ is an effort to support independent financial advice and help IFAs run their businesses “their way”.

ValidPath is part of Rimbal, the financial services and technology group, and has established “hundreds of partnerships” according to its chief executive, Angus MacNee, who went as far as to suggest his network operates “the broadest [network of providers] in the country”.

The type of advice firms under ValidPath’s wing include anything from newly-qualified to experienced IFAs starting a new business, to existing appointed representatives to directly authorised firms seeking to join a network.  “We support a wide variety of business models,” said MacNee.

Asked why the network is championing advice firms’ independence, MacNee told FTAdviser: “We are simply reflecting the culture within the network which fundamentally believes in independent financial advice.”

While much of the industry moves towards “consolidation, vertical integration and restricted advice”, ValidPath said it wanted to maintain a “customer-centric approach” and support advisers’ clients best interests.

“At a fundamental level, independent financial advice is the best approach to support positive client outcomes for a broader spectrum of people,” said MacNee.

“Independence is key to ensuring IFAs have a client-centric approach which is more important than ever considering emerging consumer expectations. 

“In a landscape where financial advisers are increasingly being pressured to make product recommendations in a particular way, ValidPath supports IFAs to run their businesses their way and support their clients in their best interests, and fundamentally believes that independent financial advice is as important today, as it will be tomorrow ”. 

ValidPath has been an IFA network for 20 years. In past few years, the advice industry it operates in has seen consolidation.

Earlier this year, Aviva bought Succession for £385mn. The deal has since promoted other advice firms to value themselves at higher multiples.

Adam Smith, chief operating officer at Fairstone, said in March the deal signalled a “substantial uplift” for IFA price tags over the past few years. 

He reckons the price Aviva paid for Succession Wealth values Fairstone “softly at around £700mn”. Both Succession Wealth and Fairstone can be described as IFA consolidators.