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Dealer group buys back insto stake

Increasing consumer demand for independently-owned financial planning has driven one licensee to extract itself from a 20 per cent institutional ownership arrangement.

Sydney-based dealer group Fortnum Financial Advisers has announced it is purchasing the 20 per cent stake in its business currently owned by ANZ Banking Group, as a result of a legacy investment by ING Australia, prior to its acquisition by OnePath.

Fortnum executive chairman Ray Miles told ifa yesterday that a desire to be described as an “independently-owned” firm largely drove the decision to free the licensee of institutional ownership.

“ANZ and OnePath have been a good partner and we have a good relationship with them, but being at 20 per cent is neither here nor there,” Mr Miles said. “It’s a nuisance for both of us and didn’t make sense. It was preventing us from being called independently-owned.”

More broadly. the dealer group boss anticipated a shift in consumer demand for independent financial advice, which he says gives a non-aligned advice business a “strategic advantage”.

“The Australian public are looking for places they can go for non-conflicted financial advice and finding it pretty difficult,” he said.

“We have been through this stage of consolidation, but I don’t think that’s relevant now. I think there are a lot of people sitting [on institutionally-owned licences] that wish they hadn’t joined.

“We will now go through a period of deconsolidation.”

The announcement comes despite research released by Roy Morgan in mid-2013 suggesting consumers are confused about the levels of institutional ownership of financial planning groups.