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Business news update

Selected adviser business and technology news from the past week. This issue: LEBC, Succession Group, Fairstone, EQ Investors, Nucleus, CII and CISI, Capital Asset Management.


• LEBC appoints director of Public Policy

National IFA, LEBC Group (LEBC), has appointed Kay Ingram (pictured) to the newly created post of director of Public Policy.

Ingram, an LSE graduate and Chartered Financial Planner was previously LEBC’s head of private client services. In addition to 26 years as an independent financial adviser, she previously worked for the British Insurance Brokers’ Association and the Conservative Party.

Jack McVitie , chief executive of LEBC,  said the appointment is integral to the group’s strategy to widen access to financial advice and “to play our part in improving the savings ratio”.

“As a firm we have advised over 35,000 individuals on retirement planning since pension freedoms were introduced. We believe our practical experience of how policy impacts on consumer behaviour can assist Government and regulators achieve better consumer outcomes.”

Ingram added: “The independent advice sector has made great progress in improving professional standards. The challenge now is to widen access to advice and LEBC is keen to help policy makers achieve this objective.”

• Succession acquires two firms for £10m within 6 months of joining as member firms

Chambers Group (trading as Lewis Chambers) and Plan4Wealth have been acquired by Succession Group in a deal which values the businesses in excess of £10million.

The independent wealth management businesses, with offices in Maidenhead and Farnham, have over £200million of funds under management and their acquisitions were completed within just six months of joining as Succession Member Firms.

Simon Chamberlain, group chief executive of Succession (pictured), said: “Lewis Chambers and Plan4Wealth joined Succession with a clear agenda for acquisition. Already in fantastic shape and a great fit for our model, we made the acquisitions in record time – within just six months of them joining as Member Firms.

“As client-centric firms, a seamless acquisition with no disruption to the business was vitally important to both.”

Lewis Chambers managing director, Mark Stokes, said: “The valuation at £10million underlines the quality of the combined propositions.  Yet for both businesses, the cultural fit was far more important than the deal price, and we undertook extensive due-diligence to be certain our clients, staff and stakeholders would be as comfortable with Succession as they have been for the last 21 years with Lewis Chambers and Plan4Wealth.

“No other consolidator or national IFA firm came close to Succession’s deal, with a capital event now and ongoing reward and recognition.  Plus there are many added-value benefits to being part of a larger group.”

Last year, Succession secured an investment package of over £25 million from HSBC and its existing shareholders (including Inflexion Private Equity) to accelerate its growth strategy through the acquisition of the best 50 firms from its affiliated membership by the end of 2017.

Succession’s national wealth management and platform business has £4.5bn of funds under management with a further £8bn in the back books of Succession’s affiliated membership.

• Fairstone completes latest downstream adviser business acquisition

Fairstone Group has fully-acquired Lancashire-based McParland and Partners, in a deal which completes the purchase of the company under Fairstone’s downstream buyout (DBO) model.

The DBO model sees Fairstone take an initial minority stake in an IFA business and integrate the firm over a number of years before completing a final acquisition of the business as a whole.

Fairstone first partnered with McParland & Partners in July 2014. The company offers independent financial advice to SMEs and private clients as well as providing independent trustee services.

The acquisition brings 2000 clients and total revenue of £1.8m to the Fairstone Group, with funds under management of approximately £160million. The eight advisers and 15 support staff at McParland and Partners have joined the Fairstone Group.

• EQ Positive Impact Portfolios added to Nucleus & Transact platforms

John Spiers’ EQ Investors Positive Impact Portfolios are now available for financial advisers to access via the Transact & Nucleus platforms.

Launched in 2012, the portfolios are designed to meet the growing investor appetite for an investment approach that both delivers an attractive return and is committed to making a positive contribution to society and/or the environment.

The seven risk adjusted model portfolios available range from ‘Cautious’ for the most risk-adverse to ‘High Octane’ for the most risk-seeking. The models are available for advisers to invest in via the platforms at an annual management fee of 0.35% + VAT.

EQ’s independent research team which conducts extensive analysis, fund selection and impact due diligence and the portfolios contain typically 20-25 socially responsible funds, covering a range of styles, asset classes and fund management groups.

Damien Lardoux, portfolio manager at EQ, added: “Our unique Positive Impact Portfolios have been a terrific success since their launch, in line with growing evidence that companies run in a sustainable and responsible manner generate higher returns.

“Demand from all types of investors is increasing as the concept of impact investing becomes more widely known.”

The Positive Impact Portfolios are also available via the Novia and Alliance Trust platforms. EQ says further announcements are due imminently.

Available in ISA, SIPP or GIA accounts, the portfolios invest only in FCA authorised and recognised funds offering daily liquidity.

• Nucleus to reduce charges for larger portfolios from July

Nucleus wrap is to reduce prices for clients with larger portfolios.

The platform said that following a review of its core pricing, charges for clients with £500,000 and above are to be “significantly reduced” from 1 July 2017.

The price reduction will apply to all existing core Nucleus users and new business from that date and is designed to ensure those already using the platform benefit from the continued success of the business while also ensuring overall pricing remains highly competitive in the market, the company said.

The revised pricing structure, which operates on a tiered basis (see below). Under the new pricing model, a client with a portfolio of £1m will see annual platform costs reduce by 12.5% while a client with a £2m portfolio will see platform costs reduce by 30%.

Barry Neilson, business development director at Nucleus, said: “As an adviser led business we listen carefully to feedback from all Nucleus users. They have been clear that they wanted us to keep our pricing structure simple but become even more competitive at higher portfolio levels. Assets, revenue and profitability have all grown strongly in recent years and this continued financial success has given us a strong foundation to be able to achieve this.”

• Chartered Body Alliance formed to enhance professionalism

Three chartered professional bodies have joined forces to enhance and sustain the level of professionalism and trust in the financial services sector.

The Chartered Insurance Institute, the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment and the Chartered Banker Institute have launched the Chartered Body Alliance, to help consumers recognise the benefits of engaging with qualified sector professionals.

While retaining their own identity, governance and areas of expertise, members of the Alliance have published the ‘Chartered Body Commitment’, stating how they will work together to achieve greater public benefit by raising professionalism and trust across financial services and promoting high standards across the sector.

The idea is that under a common brand, members of the Alliance will embark on a range of initiatives, including jointly promoting the importance of professional status, explaining how their respective qualifications represent the “gold standard” across the sector.

Between them, the three bodies have a joint membership of almost 200,000 professionals and cover a wide range of activities including wealth management, insurance, financial planning, banking and capital market activities.

By working together the three members said members said they will seek “to demonstrate a substantial collective commitment to enhancing professionalism and improving public confidence and trust in financial services”.

They will host joint events, and look to respond with a united voice to sector consultations that affect members across all three professional bodies.

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• Capital Asset Management launches apprenticeship scheme

London-based Capital Asset Management has taken on its first apprentice, Bradley Miller, under the Government Apprenticeship Scheme.

The financial planning administration apprenticeship enables young people to undertake a financial planning qualification whilst working in the firm as a Client Services Assistant, getting to know the clients and profession first hand.

Capital believes that more firms could be introducing apprentices into the financial planning sector to entice fresh and enthusiastic new faces, which in recent year the sector has failed to do.

Explaining the decision to launch the scheme, director Don Fraser said it would allow Capital to “develop and nurture young people within our company, and embed a culture and values-based system from the beginning of their career. This will enable them to start a new career with the opportunity for progression without accruing any university debt”.




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