It is part of a bigger tie-up between Lloyds Banking Group and Schroders. We are told 700 hundred planners will be recruited and while I wonder where they will find them all I do believe the launch and the new investment is good for the sector.
The fact that the UK’s biggest banking group, saved by the taxpayer following the global financial crises, which already controls some 30 per cent of the mortgage lending market as well as dominating retail banking is taking a 20 percent stake in Schroders’ wealth management business may cause alarm.
Will it be the biggest shake up in the industry since RDR? SPW aims to have some £25 billion under management and be a top three Financial Planning business. These intentions are widely seen as a threat to financial advisers up and down the land as well as networks, both whole of market and restricted. A business to rival St. James's Place, perhaps?
Some will say so but I disagree. This is the fillip that the national advice market has been looking for 15 years.
There is a significant shortage of professional, qualified financial advisers. It might not be a crisis, or as devastating as bank branch closures and the removal off ATMs up and down the land, but we continue to struggle to develop new talent.
Today's advisers are middle aged men, looking to wind down, overwhelmed by regulation, rather than competition. Our own experience at Beaufort Financial, the national partnership of IFA firms that I chair, is that decent advisers are very difficult to recruit. There aren’t enough of them.
Pensions freedom, rotten returns on savings, impenetrable inheritance tax rules and constant changes to legislation, stamp duty gumming up the housing market; the list goes on. Advice has never been in greater demand. Our advisers work closely with solicitors and accountants to advise their clients. This was unheard of 20 years ago, when most financial advisers were life insurance salesmen.
Ours is a cyclical business. Five or six years ago you couldn’t have given your Financial Planning business away. Now, consolidators backed by private equity and VCs are paying top dollar for distribution and that is why SPW has entered the market. We should be flattered. It means we as independent financial advisers are doing something right and others want to follow us.
What about competition? Will we lose out? Will clients ditch us and seek advice from them?
I doubt it. All good advisers build long and trusting relationships with their clients, which often extend to the next generation.
SPW will not threaten our advisers who work under the Beaufort Financial umbrella. Indeed, when I asked one of my colleagues if he was nervous about competitors opening for business on his patch, the answer was no. He had invested a large amount of time cultivating relationships with his clients. He had no fear and besides, there are plenty of people who really do need financial advice and don’t know where to turn.
Simon Goldthorpe is executive chairman of the Beaufort Group, a wealth manager, Financial Planner and IFA business.