Financial Planning Today: Do you have any more acquisitions planned for IWP?
David Inglesfield: Our plan is to build a national brand that represents independent local advice. We expect to grow to about £15bn of client assets over the next few years.
We have had a lot of interest of firms who are interested in IWP so we are confident we can maintain our rate of acquisitions. Currently our AUA is £3bn and we expect to add £5bn over the course of 2021.
We have welcomed 9 new businesses to IWP in 2020 and hope to announce further acquisitions before the end of the year.
With regards to organic growth, our plans are built around three key priorities: people, technology and brand. For people, we have plans to launch an adviser academy in 2021 to build a diverse new cadre of advisers. We are investing in technology and customer experience, something that is ever more important given the shift to remote service during the pandemic.
Finally, we want to continue to use our national IWP brand to communicate the power of local independent advice and make good quality Financial Planning available to more people.
Integrating teams via acquisitions must be a little tricky during a pandemic. How have you gone about making sure the Financial Planners that have joined your team via acquisitions feel part of the wider IWP team?
I would normally visit our new acquisitions in person to meet the team and welcome them to IWP so of course I miss that connection! We now do these welcome meetings as a video call and have found it works really well to connect with new teams as soon as they join.
Aside from a robust integration process we have also boosted our internal communications. Staff receive regular updates from me – and of course hear from their local CEO – as well as having access to our recently launched Intranet to learn about the business and connect as a wider IWP team.
We also make sure that best practice sessions and training is extended to new advisers and new teams.
Our local firms have coped with the pandemic admirably. Although of course there have been some challenges for all of us due to Coronavirus pandemic we have seen our businesses and local CEOs really come together to do the best for their clients and our staff.
In terms of acquisitions, seven of the firms who have joined us this year have done so since March so we are really pleased with the onboarding and integration process that has adapted to work so well remotely.
What do you think makes Financial Planners and Financial Planning businesses special?
It is easy to forget for those of us who are involved in the minutiae of the business that the service we provide is one of the of the most important consumers will ever access
We are ensuring people can look after their savings, plan for the future and have the retirement they really want. I have always found that really exciting, the process of getting to know clients and finding what works for them.
The industry is not well understood. Very few people think about this as a career choice – I have 20-year-old children who I have tried to get interested although they haven’t taken me up on my parental advice! If you think about it this is a really great career. It is fulfilling to build relationships with people and provide security for their long-term financial future.
That is why I am confident about the future of the industry - because we can provide great careers and ultimately great outcomes for our clients.
What are the biggest changes you have seen to Financial Planning during your career?
We have seen significant change since I started out. At times it has been a difficult journey, but it has been beneficial. Our industry has come a long way in having effective regulation, governance, and professional qualifications.
While I am not saying the industry is perfect or the regulation is perfect, there has been significant improvement and we are now becoming an industry and profession to be proud of.
I think it ought to be a much better known and sought-after career and we have some way to go now to increase public recognition for the great business and financial planners around the country.
Over the course of your career, you have built and led five wealth management businesses. What do you think makes some more successful than others?
This is very much a people industry. Great people make great businesses, people who are genuinely interested in clients and proud of achieving great outcomes. That is really the beginning and end of what makes a great wealth management business.
I have worked in a number of international markets and it is interesting to see different levels of consumer engagement with the industry. Around Asia people are much more engaged in money, investments and so on. In European markets that is much less the case.
These variations in the level of consumer interest and understanding in investment and investment management are thought-provoking. But at the end of the day the underlying need is always the same – to protect and growth wealth for the longer term.
During the course of my career I was fortunate to get involved in STEP and complete the diploma. Intergenerational planning is one of the themes that has stood out to me, having worked across these different places. In some international markets there is high awareness of succession planning, so I have seen the intricacies and skill in planning for families who are much more engaged with this issue. This has not been the case in the UK but there is a growing focus on intergenerational wealth planning, so it is valuable to have seen and worked in places where this is the centre of the industry.
This speaks to the complexity of Financial Planning culture around the world and raises questions that don’t have answers. I can say that in the future our industry will be much more about succession planning which is a Financial Planning discipline rather than purely an investment management discipline.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting out in the Financial Planning business, what would it be?
Congratulations you have picked a brilliant career. Always look after your clients and never let them down and they will always look after you.
When I started out, I was always terrified of having to do ‘sales’. Eventually you realise you are not selling anything. Once you have built trust people come to you for your advice and recommendations. If you keep your client front and centre, they will repay many times over.
What is one thing about you that not many people know?
I keep bees and make honey.
I used to work in the Caribbean when I worked at Barclays. Working across 5 different islands you would fly from one to the other on really tiny planes. One of these planes was taking tourists back home, via a connecting flight, and ran out of fuel. It ditched just off land and the tourist family managed to wade through the shallows with their suitcases and still caught their connecting flight!
David Inglesfield Biography: David Inglesfield is CEO of IWP. Prior to establishing IWP in 2018, he was head of wealth for an AIM-listed wealth manager, for whom he led a re-brand and strategic realignment to the Financial Planning market.