Acquisitions not a wealth play: Findex

Non-aligned planning group Findex has rejected claims its purchase of Crowe Horwath was an easy play to build its wealth business claiming accountancy based advice practices would hold and attract clients in the coming years.

Findex chief executive Spiro Paule said the group had identified the coming growth in accountancy after the global financial crisis and that it was not under ongoing regulatory threat and still retained its status as the most trusted advice sector in the market.

However it would not remain immune to technology changes which were likely to drive advice further up the value chain into more complex areas.

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"Accountancy will get its power back because of the self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF) sector and clients taking a greater interest in what to buy and what to invest in," Paule said.

"Technology is changing the delivery of accountancy services away from pure tax issues and we see this already in the area of SMSF compliance and auditing services. As a result accountants will move into advice and investments as they look further up the value chain of services they can offer to retain clients."

"Instead of waiting for that to happen we wanted to be at the start of the process and use accountancy as a base and extend from there into other services."

Paule said the Crowe Horwath purchase would shift the planner/accountant ratio in Findex from 20/80 to 60/40 but expected this to reach equilibrium over time as Findex reconciled the two sets of skills among its authorised representatives.

While Findex accountants and planners were all salaried and thus unlikely to be concerned over whom retained clients Paule said he does not believe that financial advice and accountancy were incompatible.

He said market forces had traditionally caused planners to focus on sales while accountants had become technical specialists with both professions only recently switching back to advice.

"TASA and FOFA are driving the two disciplines back together and we plan to reconcile the two approaches and build confidence in the ability of both set of practitioners."

Paule said the group was still on the lookout for acquisitions, having already completed more than 40 since inception, and had some specific businesses in mind but had put off any investigative work due to the purchase of Centric Wealth and Crowe Horwath.

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