AMP's Horizons eases succession pressure

AMP's Horizons Academy has considerably eased some difficulties around succession planning within the network, while the group also has no plans to phase out its buyer of last resort (BOLR) arrangements.

AMP director of financial planning Steve Helmich said that only four or five years ago, succession planning would have been one of the major issues established planners within the network were talking about.

But he said that is no longer top of mind, partly due to the number of up-and-coming planners entering the network via the Horizons Academy, creating a large pool of potential successors for retiring planners.

"Not all of [the graduates] want to run a business, but you tend to have strong people who want to become self-employed," he said.

Mr Helmich used the example of one of the early Horizons graduates, who recently took a stake in the practice he works in, in Lismore. Succession planning is usually more challenging in rural areas, he added.

"Sometimes it's a challenge in regional areas and we're working hard at that; we do look at creating ways of moving to regional areas."

Mr Helmich also said AMP had "absolutely" no plans to phase out BOLR arrangements.

"I could understand [removing BOLR] if there's not a strong flow of new planners coming in," he said.

"It's really part of the circle of life. Planners come back to us [looking to sell], we help them sell to new planners, and if the practice comes back to us we might split it up and sell it to new planners."

Mr Helmich said AMP also encourages planners to do partial sales, where they can sell parts of the client base they no longer see as their target market; in which case AMP may buy them back and sell them to new planners.

"They don't sit idle, they sell fairly quickly, and I think that's a strength of the academy - we try and match clients to planners; we look at the demographics," Mr Helmich said.

"One of the things that's important is if you try and match [upcoming planners to existing practices] in the succession plan - we make sure that the culture of the new planner fits with the practice they're going to. We try and do that even in Horizons as they're coming through."

Mr Helmich also expressed surprise at predictions from some quarters that the total number of planners in the industry would fall. "We expect to continue to grow, we think there's an undersupply of financial planners for the number of clients who want advice," he said.

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