Mid-tier growth tipped post-FOFA

Despite recent industry trends, demand for dealer groups independent of product providers will return following the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) implementation, a non-aligned licensee chief has predicted.

Rod Bristow, chief executive of non-aligned dealer group Infocus, told ifa the appeal of licensees that fit the non-aligned profile will increase among advisers in the 12 months following the FOFA implementation date.

Although not referring to specific groups, Bristow noted his company had “watched a number of our competitors fold or merge around us”.

The past 24 months have seen IOOF acquire Plan B (which is also a majority owner of MyAdviser), CBA acquire Count Financial, Snowball merge with Shadforths and financial and compliance difficulties emerge for other mid-tier groups, including AFS Group.

Several industry commentators have noted forced industry consolidation a side effect of FOFA.

“We believe there’s still a place for a nimble, flexible group that’s independently minded,” Bristow said.

“That’s the space we’re choosing to play in, and we’re pretty excited about the future. We think that once the six to 12 months of FOFA implementation have rolled through, that’s a time when a lot of advisers will be looking for a partner like us.

“If you look at industry trends, the focus is becoming more and more on the customer and what the customer needs. That means the adviser needs to be nimble and flexible in meeting those needs.”

Bristow said the group had put a lot of work into ensuring its FOFA readiness, including a recent announcement that it had upgraded its adviser software system, Platformplus, to include brokerage, as well as incorporating functionality to incorporate FOFA’s opt-in and fee disclosure statement requirements.

Bristow said there had been “significant structural changes” on the way for the group regardless of FOFA, but FOFA had accelerated those changes. He hinted at other upcoming changes for the group.

“The FOFA-compliance element of Platformplus is the first in a series of initiatives we intend to roll out over the next couple of years to streamline the support we give to advisers,” he said.

“We’ve invested ahead of the curve now.”

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