Market volatility during the 2012 financial year continued to negatively impact dealer group funds under advice (FUA).
Of the 41 dealer groups that registered a change in FUA in the ifa Top 50 Dealer Group Survey, 18 recorded an increase in FUA in the 12 months ended 30 June, while the remaining 23 suffered a decline.
Of the top 10 dealer groups (based on FUA), six recorded an increase in the survey for the period, while the remaining four posted a negative result compared with the same period last year.
RBS Morgans, Commonwealth Financial Planning and Westpac Financial Planning were among the strongest performers.
RBS Morgans boosted its FUA by $21 billion to $55 billion; Commonwealth Financial Planning’s FUA rose $2.55 billion to $26.4 billion; and Westpac Financial Planning managed to achieve a small increase of $0.17 billion to $17,608 billion.
RBS Morgans’ managed branches director, John Lindsay, says the group’s increased FUM stemmed from increased activity in the hybrid fixed interest space, leading to opportunities for clients to invest.
“RBS Morgans has been heavily involved in the management of many of these offerings, including the CBA Perls VI, Woolworths and Origin Energy issuances,” Lindsay tells ifa.
“RBS Morgans also continues to offer extensive equities research coverage, with around 300 listed companies researched which is directly distributed to our clients.”
The group has also faced – and overcome – several challenges in boosting FUM over the year.
“The challenges we faced are all around client sentiment, with so much publicity around global macro issues and local issues,” Lindsay says.
“However, with a focus on creating investment opportunities for our clients, we are always on the front foot, communicating with our clients and adding real value to the relationships. Keeping in regular contact with clients in good times and in bad is core to our business model.”
The group plans to continue strengthening and diversifying its network across the country.
“[Also], the size of our client base provides us with the opportunity to grow funds under advice and market share when we have new investment opportunities and markets are favourable,” Lindsay says.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) executive general manager of advice, Marianne Perkovic, told ifa that much FUA growth comes off the back of impending Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) reforms.
“We’ve really had a move to the ongoing service of clients, so we’ve been able to retain a lot more business,” she tells ifa.”That is now what the advisers have to do as part of their process.
“I think, as well, we’re trying to get advice and make advice more accessible to people.”
Commonwealth Financial Planning does not, however, have a specific goal for FUA growth for the coming year, Perkovic explains
“We focus on advice appointments and are looking through the referrals that come through to planners,” she says.
“Targets that people have will be more focused on revenue, not so much the funds.”
But not all those groups that made the top 10 saw improved results from the previous year.
Despite achieving second and third place on the table for FUA, Macquarie Private Wealth and AMP Financial Planning both saw a decrease in FUA for the period.
Macquarie Private Wealth’s head, Eric Schimpf, cites tough investor sentiment as lying behind its $3.07 billion decrease in FUA to $34.9 billion for the period ended 30 June.
“The market is still experiencing challenging conditions, which has made investors more cautious,” Schimpf tells ifa.
“However, our clients are still in equities and understand that investing in this asset class is a long-term investment strategy. This is where the role of advice can add real value. It is the job of our advisers to help clients pick the right equities to be in at the right time and help them make the right choices.
“As we look ahead to 2013, we will continue to focus on delivering quality advice to our clients and providing outstanding service [in order to boost FUA for the next financial year],” he said.
AMP Financial Planning suffered a greater dip, of $7.52 billion, taking the group down to $31.8 billion for the period.
“Although the ASX 200 Index fell by 11 per cent for the period from June 2011 to June 2012, AMP Financial Planning’s FUA declined by only 1.9 per cent for the same period,” AMP Financial Planning managing director Michael Guggenheimer tells ifa.
“So, while there continues to be ongoing market volatility, we believe there are good opportunities for financial planners to demonstrate the value they can add for their clients.”
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