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BT reveals acquisition criteria

BT Financial Group has confirmed plans to expand its adviser network, laying out the selection criteria for practices hoping to join one of its dealer channels. 

In an exclusive interview with ifa, BT head of advice Mark Spiers said that the group is looking to grow its “planner footprint”, listing the growth of its network of authorised representatives across its bank and dealer group channels as one its top “strategic priorities”.

However, the Westpac-owned group also has a strict admissions policy in place across all of its various financial planning entities, indicating a focus on “quality first and quantity second”.

“There are various filters we’d put on before we’d look at bringing a practice into our network,” Spiers said. “We really want to get into the hearts and minds of planners looking to join us – it’s not just about having a coffee and welcoming them onboard.”

Among the listed ideal attributes were the ability to be coachable and be willing to learn; focused on aspiration and growth; and willing to contribute to the wider network and community of advisers.

“If they’re not growth-oriented we don’t want them,” Spiers added.

In order to ascertain whether a practice is a “good cultural fit” BT conducts what Spiers describes as “really deep due diligence”, examining the compliance history of the business, interviewing former employees and authorised representatives and even looking at individual past statements of advice (SOAs).

At the same time, Spiers said the group allows “mutual due diligence”, hosting regular orientation days for prospective practices where it can showcase its services and implementing a thorough initiation and ‘onboarding’ process.

Spiers pointed to its practice feedback and advocacy program as one of the key reasons its AFSLs are sought after.

“We know that when we have a strong advocacy program in place people are more likely to come to us looking for leadership when they are dissatisfied with their existing dealer group,” he said.

The comments follow reports that several practices from the troubled Australian Financial Services (AFS) Group have left to join the BT network. BT declined to comment further on the matter.