A New Zealand national convicted for his role in a multi-million dollar corporate collapse has allegedly been the driving force behind recent acquisitions of Australian financial planning businesses.
Speaking to ifa on condition of anonymity, the former principal of a financial planning practice acquired in mid-2014 by Sydney-based Talos Accounting Group, said Mark Bryers, founder of collapsed New Zealand property investment company Blue Chip, was heavily involved in negotiations leading up to the transaction.
Mr Bryers originally introduced himself to the practice principal as ‘Mark Ryan’. However, his true identity subsequently came to light, along with his plans to acquire “100 financial planning and accounting businesses” over a three-year period and to help Talos list on the ASX.
A separate source, also close to Talos, told ifa that in the cases of the eight financial planning and accounting acquisitions made by the company in recent years, six of the vendors are now in “various stages of legal action” against the company for alleged debts owed.
Mr Bryers was convicted of breaching New Zealand’s Companies Act in May 2010 and was subsequently prohibited from managing companies for a period of five years, according to High Court of New Zealand documents.
However, while the court documents confirm Mr Bryers has lived predominantly in Australia since his banning and bankruptcy, his specific role within Talos is disputed.
ASIC records list Stephen Lacy as the sole director of Talos Accounting Group and a media release issued by Talos in 2014 stated that Mr Bryers was only engaged by the Australian company in a consulting capacity ending in August 2014.
“[Mr Bryers] is not, nor has ever been, a shareholder or director of Talos Accounting,” the media release said.
However, a sworn affidavit registered in the High Court by a former Talos associate – and obtained by ifa – claims Mr Bryers is actually the “general manager of each entity inside Talos Group and owns 51 per cent of each company”.
“[Mr] Bryers directed everything and gave instructions to [Talos’s] management and all staff,” the affidavit said. “In reality all management and board decisions were essentially made by [Mr] Bryers.”
The Talos media statement also said the company was aware he was operating in Australia under the name of Mark Ryan in order “not to draw attention to himself” and it was aware of his “history in New Zealand”.
Mr Bryers was approached for comment but did not respond by ifa’s deadline.
42 per cent of Australians do not trust claims made by Australian companies about their ESG performance.
Superannuation is the asset class with the biggest loss to date in 2022.
Managed accounts are key to ensuring the sustainability of an advice practice, experts have said.
Get the latest news! Subscribe to the ifa bulletin
Get notifications in real time and stay up to date with content that matters to you.