For many advisers, the first few months of 2013 will have been as taxing a quarter as they will remember as the new RDR regime beds in (although some will counter the final weeks of 2012 were equally stressful) and they continue to familiarise themselves, and their clients, with the new way of operating. Despite this maelstrom, it is important to raise one’s head above water once in a while to keep a sense of perspective with what is going on in the industry and what can be learned from what one’s counterparts are doing.
To this end, our Adviser Conferences are always useful events, both for us to gauge the mood of those operating at ‘the coalface’ and for advisers themselves to compare notes on how they are finding the post-RDR landscape. The camaraderie is always strong and our advisers often see it as an opportunity to share business knowledge with each other as well as learning from the formal presentations themselves – tips that are intended to help them grow their businesses. It is this symbiosis that I often feel is the main thing that smaller, independent IFA firms miss out on – the chance to hear different anecdotes and opinions from their peers across the country and the support that can be relied upon when a member of a national firm or network.
It would appear that a number of firms are belatedly realising this and I’ve never been busier in my role as mergers and acquisitions director. We have a clutch of new member offices to unveil over the coming months and conversations are on-going with a significant number of others. The volume of meetings and conversations has remained high but the actual number of acquisitions remains on an even keel as we are ever mindful of ensuring we only acquire the highest calibre of firm.
In terms of the themes emerging from our most recent Adviser Conference there was an emphasis on the opportunities available to advisers and the responsibility advisers have for grasping these opportunities on behalf of their clients and their office. Peter Craddock, our Operations Director, refers to it as an extension of TCF – TCF times three if you will. Treating customers fairly remains at the heart of everything we do, but advisers must also consider whether they are treating their company and colleagues in the same way.
Another issue that was agreed upon at the forum was the importance to our advisers – and our group model as a whole – of a strong trade body, especially at a time of such flux for the industry. We joined the Association of Professional Financial Advisers at the tail end of last year and fully support its aims and objectives. Groups such as ourselves can further our advisers’ interests to a certain extent, but it is important that advisers’ needs are also lobbied for at a national and governmental level by a representative group such as APFA. Needless to say we fully intend to play an active role not just in APFA going forward but the whole industry as our ‘select club’ of national offices continues to grow and thrive.
David Hesketh is group M&A director at Perspective Financial Group