SFG expects ‘hands off’ IOOF ownership

IOOF’s proposed $670 million takeover of SFG Australia is not a “product play” and would allow retention of identity and advice philosophy, according to an SFG executive.  

Should the takeover bid be approved at a scheduled shareholder meeting in August, Nick Bedding, who heads SFG’s financial advice arm Shadforth Financial Group, says he expects to retain autonomy over the dealer group’s advice services despite institutional ownership.

“IOOF has made it very clear that they intend for SFG to maintain the brand and advice structure it has in place,” Mr Bedding told ifa. “We don’t see that our philosophy will change and [IOOF CEO] Chris Kellaher has made it clear that won’t change. This is not a product play.”

IOOF’s track record of acquisitions in the financial advice market reflects a “hands off approach”, Mr Bedding suggested, which allows for a multi-product, 'open APL' philosophy.

While many SFG advisers are “asking questions” about the ramifications of the takeover bid, Mr Bedding said he has not heard “a single negative response”, anticipating a number of benefits for the adviser network.

“I’ve just finished a national roadshow speaking to every one of our advisers and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said.

“The deal puts us in a position where we are big enough and have enough scale to compete against the big banks and insurance companies.”

The ability to offer additional trustee and estate planning services as well as technological training resources are key benefits to client-facing advisers in the event of IOOF acquisition, Mr Bedding said.

While retention of identity is a key priority for SFG, Mr Bedding says he would have “no issue whatsoever” in disclosing IOOF as the parent company, particularly in the event of additional disclosure requirements, as signalled by former Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos in late 2013.

“I think the consumer would view IOOF as the ideal parent company – it’s not a bank or insurance company and has a strong history of doing the right thing by their clients and the consumer,” he said. “I wouldn’t seek to hide that.”

However, an SFG spokesperson was keen to stress that the acquisition is “by no means completed” and that the bid requires the approval of the shareholders, an independent reviewer and the Supreme Court of NSW. 

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