Adviser growth plans and opportunities in 2016
As the New Year fast approaches, advisers discuss their growth plans for 2016 and what exciting opportunities lie ahead for the industry
Scott Gallacher, director, Rowley Turton
“One of the huge things for us as a business and for the industry as a whole will be auto-enrolment. It’s already underway but we will see even more activity in 2016. Auto-enrolment work is profitable for us a firm, but importantly it provides us with the opportunity to potentially attract new long-term clients, as well as please our existing clients.
“In my view, you need to be able to offer your clients everything as an act of self-protection. You don’t want to risk them going elsewhere for services you won’t provide. I honestly can’t see how advisers will get away with not being involved in auto-enrolment next year,” says Gallacher.
The Leicester-based firm also plans to build on its existing growth, with ambitions to increase its client bank.
“We are currently at £90million assets under administration and would like to reach £110m by the end of 2016. We have a good profile and are active on platforms like Vouchedfor and Unbiased, so we are seeing increased cold enquiries from people finding us online.”
But while FAMR is a big talking point for the FCA, Gallacher warns it could have a negative effect on advisers.
“RDR has been really good for the advice industry, as it’s helped firms move away from product pushing and define their financial planning proposition. I think any unwinding of RDR, or moving backwards, would be counter-productive. At this moment in time, I’m struggling to see how FAMR could be that beneficial,” he says.
Sheriar Bradbury, managing director, Bradbury Hamilton
Bradbury hopes 2016 will mark a change in the regulatory attitude towards IFAs to help bridge the advice gap.
He says: “There are a lot of ordinary people, who in all likelihood need financial advice more than the wealthy, who are not getting it. There really needs to be a change in government thinking to financially incentivise advisers, else we will continue to see a large swathe of the market not receiving the help and advice they need.”
Bradbury would also welcome more consistency in financial advice standards.
“I do not believe standards should be changed over time, because it’s simply not fair that advisers are held liable for decisions made many, many years ago. Six years’ accountability is reasonable, as it’s in line with common law, but unlimited is absolutely not.”
Bradbury argues a much stricter limitation on the liability time period would have a knock-on effect on PI costs and bring profitability back to firms, which in turn would help boost their growth.
London-based Bradbury Hamilton is seeking to boost its own growth over the next 12 months, through a joint venture with accountancy firm Raffingers. The firms plan to hold a seminar for clients on the subject of pension relief in February.
Bradbury says: “There’s a huge problem facing people and pensions. We need to make people aware of unused relief and personal allowance and steer them in the right direction.”
Bradbury Hamilton will also use 2016 as an opportunity to improve efficiencies within the firm.
“For the last 18 months, we’ve held off from making acquisitions as our focus has been upon improving internal operations and client care. The results have been really positive – we more than doubled our profits in the year ended September 2015. Next year, we will continue to focus on client service and reducing our key costs by improving efficiency.”
Bradbury Hamilton also expects auto-enrolment to prove a lucrative area over the next 12 months.
Anna Sofat, Managing Director, Addidi
Sofat has big plans for business growth in 2016, with the appointment of new employees.
She says: “As a business, we’re looking to grow more than in previous years. That means we need to expand, with the addition of an adviser and someone on the operations side. At the moment, it’s about finding the right people for the job, which isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to employing advisers. Of course, we want them to be suitably qualified but they also need to be great with clients and understand the financial planning process.”
Sofat says a lot of women have left the industry, and a part of her would like to see if her business model could offer something tempting to entice a female financial planner to the firm.
Addidi also has ambitions to expand outside of London, with the creation of regional hubs.
“It’s important we continue to grow and that requires looking at how we can improve and evolve,” says Sofat. “The New Year is always a good time to look at what others are doing and ask ourselves, should we be doing the same? Be that technology, robo-advice, different business models. We don’t want to stand still, nor do we want to be overtaken by other firms.”
Looking to the wider advice industry, Sofat says she hopes FAMR marks a positive step.
“It’s the government’s intention to make advice more widely available and any push to help people receive advice is great.”
However, Sofat says there should also be more done to create a balance between client and adviser responsibility.
“I think in many cases people have been a bit greedy expecting fantastic returns without really questioning what they’re buying – they should step back and take responsibility for their actions, rather than simply expect compensation.
“As an industry, we need to create more PR around the great work we do, to help dispel the distrust surrounding financial advice,” says Sofat.
Robert Forbes, chartered financial planner, Stadden Forbes Wealth Management
Forbes believes the banks continuing to retreat from the advice space will have a positive impact on IFAs in 2016.
He says: “The pace at which the banks are retreating seems to have accelerated somewhat and created a big gap in the market, which puts firms like ours in a great position. Previously, clients were a bit inert but that is changing, and now we’ve got an amazing opportunity to engage with new and prospective clients.”
The firm plans to put together a specific marketing strategy for the next 12 months, which it hopes will appeal to its target audience.
“We are simply piling all our money into client and business development. There is a huge number of people out there who should be our clients and it’s about making sure they’re aware of what we do,” says Forbes. “Marketing is a vital part of growing a business. Fortunately, we are in an era where we can engage with people in a better, far more effective way than ever before.”
However, Forbes does not believe FAMR will have a big impact in 2016.
“We have to be careful that all the noise doesn’t distract people. I don’t believe we will see anything particularly groundbreaking emerge. Yes, for those who are lagging a bit it may bring them up to speed but really for us as firm it’s a non-event,” he says.