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Financial Services Newsletter Thursday 6th April 2023

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Financial Services News

​Paul Boston, a former Executive of Novia platform, has launched a financial advice firm for “lower value” clients with simple financial needs. The firm, Hundreds & Thousands, is targeting IFA’s lower assets clients below the £250,000 threshold. It will provide low-cost advice, platform services and discretionary fund management as well as underlying funds to these clients. (Momodou Musa Touray, 28/3/2023, Money Marketing, 'Ex-Novia exec launches low-cost advice firm')

​Former Abrdn advice director Neil Messenger has announced he is launching his own independent advice business. Messenger, who has amassed a wealth of experience building and leading Grant Thornton wealth advisory business for more than 17 years, will lead the new company – Professional Independent Wealth Advice (PIWA). The business will work with Sandringham Financial Partners, which will provide administration and business support. (Lois Vallely, 22/3/2023, Money Marketing, 'Exclusive: Former Abrdn advice head launches new wealth advice firm')

Former Personal Finance Society (PFS) President Caroline Stuart and soft skills expert Melissa Kidd have co-founded a new venture aimed at helping advisers with communications and ‘human skills’. The new initiative, The Co-Laboratory, will host its inaugural ‘Co-Lab' session next month focussed on ‘difficult dialogues'. The learning session is aimed at advisers and will be free to attend. Stuart and Kidd said The Co-Laboratory had been set up to help grow the ‘human' side of finance and move away from the industry's tendency to focus more heavily on technical exams and capabilities. (Hope William-Smith, 31/3/2023, Professional Adviser, 'Former PFS president co-launches soft skills initiative for advisers')

The UK division of consolidator Kingswood reported an 80% increase in operating profit to £11m last year, according to its latest trading statement. It said the UK division performed strongly "reflecting rapid growth in the business". Earlier this month it confirmed it was in talks about the potential sale of the UK business. UK revenue stood at about £33.8m, up 54% year on-year. The statement added that 87% of the UK operation's revenue was recurring "providing a strong, annuity-style fee stream". (Jenna Brown, 15/4/2023, Professional Adviser, 'Kingswood UK operating profit up 80% to £11m in 2022')

IFA firm Ascot Lloyd has partnered with SS&C Technologies to launch its own adviser platform. The advice business said the platform would look to deliver competitive pricing alongside both "client and adviser-centric functionality". Investment Director Steven Lloyd said the launch of the platform was "firmly part of Ascot Lloyd's ongoing digitalisation strategy". (Hope William-Smith, 9/4/2023, Professional Adviser, 'Platform space to expand as Ascot Lloyd launches new offering')

Vanguard Personal Financial Planning, which has been in operation for almost two years, cost 0.79% for its advice service, including ongoing fund charges, transaction and platform fees. It was launched as a restricted service, recommending only Vanguard products and investments. Vanguard is to close its retirement planning service, which launched in April 2021, saying its clients were looking for “more adaptable forms of financial planning” from the company. (Jenna Brown, 1/4/2023, Professional Adviser, 'Vanguard shuts retirement planning service')

Mergers & Acquisitions

Nexus Independent Financial Advisers and Nexus Investment Managers have been sold to Vintage Wealth Management for £500,000. Vintage Wealth Management is an independent financial adviser (IFA) practice based in London and the sale was completed on 9 March. (Darius McQuaid, 29/3/2023, Money Marketing, 'Nexus firms bought by IFA for £500,000')

​Benchmark Capital has completed a deal to buy Northern-Ireland-based Kennedy Independent Financial Advice (KFA). This is Benchmark’s second acquisition in Northern Ireland, after it bought Waterhouse Financial Planning in May last year, in a deal which first established its presence in the region. The acquisitions form part of the strategy to build a central hub in Derry, adding £80m in assets, strengthening the local team and accelerating growth in Northern Ireland.(Lois Vallely, 28/3/2023, Money Marketing, 'Benchmark buys Northern Ireland advice firm')

The Wren Sterling Group has started 2023 with the completion of two acquisitions – Active Wealth Management and HB&O Financial Services. Following the purchases, the group has 860 clients and £330m in assets. Active Wealth Management Limited will join Wren Sterling’s Glasgow office. Meanwhile, HB&O Financial Services, the acquisition of which it announced last autumn, will further expand Wren Sterling’s presence in the West Midlands. (Lois Vallely, 22/3/2023, Money Marketing, 'Wren Sterling’s latest deals bring it to 860 clients')

​Perspective Financial Group, has announced the completion of three more firm acquisitions as parts of its growth plans. These are HNH Financial Services (HNH) in Huddersfield, Gould Financial Planning in Cardiff and Financial Choices IFA in Whitstable. This move takes the financial planning and wealth management group’s footprint to 26 locations, with two new areas, Huddersfield and Cardiff. Also, these acquisitions add a further 760 households as clients and £515m in assets under management (AUM).(Darius McQuaid, 20/3/2023, Money Marketing, 'Perspective expands footprint with three acquisitions')

Acquisition activity has increased significantly, nearly doubling in number, from 54 deals in 2021 to 101 in 2022, a new report by NextWealth has found. Based on publicly announced deals, around £26bn in assets under management (AUM) was purchased in 2021, the report revealed. This number increased 85% to around £48bn in 2022. According to public data, Perspective Financial Group and Fairstone Group made the most acquisitions over the past three years – 20 and 13 purchases respectively. (Lois Vallely, 30/3/2023, Money Marketing, 'Exclusive: Acquisition of advice firms almost doubled in 2022')

Wealth manager and advice firm Skerritts has purchased Horsham-based Mercier Allen and Associates. It brings an additional £73m of assets under management (AUM) and is the sixth deal Skerritts has done since it received private-equity backing.(Michael Klimes, 13/3/2023, Money Marketing, 'Skerritts acquires Horsham-based adviser')

​The parent company of national advisory business Foster Denovo has completed seven internal practice acquisitions. The deals bring £800m in assets under advice to Foster Denovo Group and follow its securing of £100m in funding 13 months ago. The agreement with Crestline Investors saw it take a minority stake in Foster Denovo Group last February. The seven deals completed since were achieved through practice buyouts (PBOs) across both the group's private client and corporate businesses. More than 70 advisers are now employed by the group while Crestline's investment will also be behind an external acquisition drive for Foster Denovo over the next five years. (Hope William-Smith, 30/4/2023, Professional Adviser, 'Foster Denovo parent secures £800m in assets via internal acquisitions')

M&G has completed its acquisition of 49.9% of IFA Continuum (Financial Services) and agreed to buy out the remainder over the next two years. The deal, first announced in August last year, will see M&G acquire the Plymouth-based IFA business for an undisclosed sum. Continuum has more than £1.6bn in assets under influence and about 15,000 clients.(Jenna Brown, 9/4/2023, Professional Adviser, 'M&G completes acquisition of Plymouth IFA Continuum')

Fairstone has sealed its second acquisition deal of the year with the purchase of south Lincolnshire-based MT Financial Management (MT). It said the deal supported its strategic growth plans and nationwide coverage. MT, a holistic financial planning specialist based in Spalding, has a client base across Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire. It has been in business for more than 25 years. (Jenna Brown, 6/4/2023, Profesisonal Adviser, 'Fairstone acquires MT Financial Management in latest acquisition deal')

AssetCo has reached an agreement to acquire the entire issued share capital of Ocean Dial Asset Management for a total consideration of £4.1m. The deal will see the Martin Gilbert, Chaired Asset Manager add emerging markets capabilities to its repertoire, with a particular focus on India, bringing the India Capital Growth Fund investment trust under the River and Mercantile banner.(James Baxter-Derrington, 6/4/2023, 'AssetCo agrees £4.1m acquisition of Ocean Dial Asset Management')

Kingswood, the consolidator and wealth management group, has confirmed discussions have taken place linked to a potential sale of its UK operations. The business, which has both UK and US arms, said it had hired Houlihan Lokey as its Financial Adviser and that discussions had taken place with regard to its strategic options, "including, but not limited to, a potential sale or third party investment into the company's UK business operations".(Jenna Brown, 6/4/2023, Professional Adviser, 'Kingswood confirms potential sale of UK business')

In further news...Transatlantic consolidator Kingswood has completed the acquisition of Dublin-based advice firm Moloney Investments (MMPI). Kingswood announced the deallast September and revealed back then that it would acquire 70% of MMPI for £23m. It also confirmed that the remaining 30% would be retained by existing shareholders.(Julia Bahr, 3/4/2023, Professional Adviser, 'Kingswood completes acquisition of Dublin-based advice firm')

Professional services firm Progeny is set to acquire Chartered financial planning practice Gibbs Denley. The acquisition will see Progeny take its assets under management to more than £7.5bn and significantly bolster its headcount. Gibbs Denley has seven Chartered financial planners across its Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds and Chelmsford offices, as well as 29 other staff.(Hope William-Smith, 3/4/2023, Professional Adviser, 'Progeny to acquire Gibbs Denley in deal that takes assets to £7.5bn')

Craven Street Wealth has acquired financial planning firm Bernard Barrett Associates. The deal means £1.25bn of assets under management will be added to the books of London-based Craven Street. Craven Street Wealth was formed in 2021 when parent firm Craven Street Capital acquired and merged Kreston Reeves Financial Planning and Christchurch Investment Management.(Alex Sebastian, 3/4/2023, Professional Adviser, 'Craven Street Wealth acquires Bernard Barrett Associates')


​Tenet Group has appointed Helen Ball as Chief Executive with immediate effect. The move follows a strategic review carried out by the group, including a review of the leadership team. Current CEO Mark Scanlon and Chief Financial Officer Martin Tyler will leave the business with immediate effect. The business is in the process of recruiting a new CFO. Ball was previously Managing Director of Tenet and has more than 40 years’ experience in the sector. (Lois Vallely, 29/3/2023, Money Marketing, 'Tenet names new CEO as part of leadership team overhaul')

​Will Self, former Chief Executive of Sipp provider Curtis Banks, has joined acquisition firm Marwyn Acquisition Company II as Head of its pension division. Self will lead the identification, acquisition, and integration of pensions businesses for MAC II. He has previously held several senior roles in financial services firms such as Chief Executive Officer of Suffolk Life, a division of Legal & General. (Momodou Musa Touray, 27/3/2023, Money Marketing, 'Ex-Curtis Banks CEO joins acquisition firm')

Progeny has appointed Caroline Hawkesley to the new role of UK Managing Director. The appointment is part of a restructure to strengthen the position of the business in the UK market and prepare it for future international growth. Hawkesley will move from her current role as Chief Operations Officer in the business. (Lois Vallely, 30/3/2023, Money Marketing, 'Progeny names UK MD as part of restructure')

​Quilter has broadened the responsibilities of Steve Gazard by appointing him Chief Distribution Officer, subject to regulatory approval. Gazard was previously Chief Executive of Quilter Financial Planning. Now, he will have responsibility for Quilter’s distribution, as well as its marketing, product and proposition functions. (Lois Vallely, 17/3/2023, Money Marketing, 'Exclusive: Quilter promotes Steve Gazard to chief distribution officer')

​Seccl has appointed former Abrdn platform Head of Operations to strengthen its senior management team. Nadine Barham ran operations, oversight and change delivery for Abrdn’s Elevate and Wrap platforms between 2018 and 2021. Barham joins Seccl next week as Head of Operations, and will report directly to Chief Executive David Ferguson. (Momodou Musa Touray, 16/3/2023, Money Marketing, 'Seccl appoints ex-Abrdn head of platform operations')

Quilter’s financial adviser training operation is to overhaul its qualification programmes amid staff changes which see Head Julian Hince leave the school. The Quilter Financial Adviser School said it would offer different routes to qualification, including a revamped ‘fast track' programme of full-time study. It said its ‘fast track' programme would run alongside its ‘lifestyle' programme that supports students looking to gradually transition from one career to another while completing the requisite examinations. (Jenna Brown, 23/4/2023, Professional Adviser, 'Quilter adviser school revamps qualifications as head exits')

The Consumer Duty Alliance (CDA), a non for profit community interest company (CIC), launched in London. Keith Richards, who was Chief Executive (CEO) of the Personal Finance Society (PFS) from 2013 to 2021, will lead the new body as CEO. A new body for the finance sector has launched in a bid to build a cross-sector alliance of good practice ahead of the incoming consumer duty rules. (Laura Miller, 10/4/2023, Professional Adviser, 'Ex-PFS CEO launches Consumer Duty 'good practice' body')

All information provided in this Market Digest has been gathered from Money Marketing and Professional Adviser.