Despite plenty of negative publicity in recent months and questions about staff incentives and high charges, the SJP model grows like topsy.
The latest quarterly figures show it added more than 300 new advisers in Q4 of 2019, roughly 100 a month. Its total adviser numbers are now near 4,300. It’s possible it could reach 5,000 advisers in the next year or so.
Several others are not far behind.
Quilter now has more than 3,900 advisers. Openwork has more than 3,600 advisers across the UK. Chartered Financial Planning firm Fairstone has more than 560 advisers and staff, AFH (run by a Chartered Financial Planner) has more than 200 advisers.
Successions has more than 600 staff, including many Financial Planners. Tilney has more than 300 Financial Planners and investment managers. Mazars and many others are expanding their financial advice / Financial Planning operations rapidly.
It’s true SJP is not popular with some planners. It’s part restricted advice approach and concerns about charges have found a critical response from some.
It’s fair to say, however, that the wealth management / Financial Planning space has expanded hugely in the past 10 years and it’s firms like SJP driving the change.
Some interesting new research this week from network Openwork found that the numbers of people considering a career in financial advice is also “surging.” A nationwide study found that nearly six out of 10 adults (59%) would consider a career as a financial adviser, a big increase on the 45% interested in an advice career when Openwork last researched the subject in March 2019.
The research found that over half of the women surveyed said they would consider a career as an adviser (54%) but careers in advice remain more popular among men with 65% looking at become advisers.
So what does all this mean? Well we can argue whether some of the models above are ’true’ Financial Planners. Some are restricted or part-restricted advisers. Some separate restricted advice from non-restricted. The sector is increasingly fractured in terms of what model to follow. Some may see themselves as more wealth managers than Financial Planners although in truth the lines between the two are blurring (see latest issue of Financial Planning Today magazine).
What is emerging is a hunger for scale. Private equity firms and venture capitalists are increasingly funding this expansion. It’s almost inevitable that some of the names above will become true national Financial Planning brands and, while there is plenty of room for local planners with deep roots in their communities, the scale and influence of these Financial Planning ‘giants’ will likely mould the future of the profession.
Kevin O’Donnell is editor of Financial Planning Today and a financial journalist with 30 years experience. This topical comment on the Financial Planning news appears most weeks.