With Andrew Moore, National Financial Planning Director.
The blizzard outside Chapel Golf Club seemed appropriate as the stock market went into its second day of freefall due to the coronavirus. As our pension funds shrank outside, indoors Andrew Moore described how Quilter has risen to be voted No 1 in the Financial Times’ Best 100 independent financial advisers (IFAs) in only 4 years, now boasting 4,000 employees and over 900,000 customers. Quite a story.
It really got going when Paul Feeny, their visionary CEO, identified three big problems in the field of financial advice. Firstly, a huge savings gap. People are not saving nearly enough. Older people generally are better provided for, owning their homes and with good pensions, so the gap is growing compared with previous generations. Secondly, there’s a gap in trust, and thirdly, related to that, a problem of increased complexity. 20 years ago some 200,000 IFAs were in business to give advice, though in practice they tended to sell products; a lack of transparency was evident. Now, with complex regulation, most have retired, leaving only 26,000, and that number is likely to drop even further. Meanwhile four out of five of us don’t seek advice, often till too late. The earlier savings and future planning start, the better.
Andrew outlined for us the way that their operation originating from Cheviot (1985) and Old Mutual was streamlined and split into regions including South Africa and the USA. They now offer a full range of financial advice, wealth solutions and investor platforms, and a separate business which sells life assurance. The UK part was floated as Quilter plc in June 2017, joining the FTSE 250 with £118 billions of assets under management. Andrew’s bit is the Private Client Advisers service.
Quilter’s strategy is multi-pronged. To widen the market and reach those potential customers who are not taking advice right now and should be: hence their sponsorship of 6 Nations Rugby and Countryfile fairs at Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. To build up the numbers of trained advisers, to fill that gap: Quilter acquired a school, taking young graduates through a rigorous 18 month to 2 years’ year training. And they have steadily bought up successful local IFAs, giving clients access to face-to-face advice from a much bigger operation, which separates the financial planning from the investor management; “These are not the same,” said Andrew. “They need different skill sets.” Yes, that makes sense. But, crucially, this is their USP: they don’t sell a product – they sell advice.
He’s also proud of the Quilter Foundation, a charity set up to help young carers. Who knows? They might be the investors of the future.
Questions flew: what about people with less money? Answer: they still need advice. There are government options; Quilter are looking at a telephone service. And, crucially, what do you charge? Typically, 1% of the funds entrusted to them. That’s a lot cheaper than many others. Economies of scale? Perhaps.
The snow eased as we looked forward to the next monthly breakfast meeting, on Friday March 20, with Graham Atkinson of award-winning Atkinson HR Consultancy. What use is HR, really? Perhaps in the middle of this pandemic, keeping your staff cheerful and effective is the most important thing you can do. Let’s find out more. Coffee from 7.30am, speaker 8 – 9am, then networking till 9.30am.