Count-Diverger see adviser losses ahead of merger

2 February 2024
| By Laura Dew |
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The adviser gains last week have been “wiped out” this week as advisers depart Count and Diverger ahead of the merger. 

Last week, there was a net gain of 18 advisers, but this week, that has been reversed with a loss of 18 advisers and 33 licensee owners showing net losses.

In total, there were 27 licensee owners who had gains of 43 advisers, and 33 licensee owners who had losses of 50 advisers. 

The largest losses were seen at Count and Diverger, where Diverger shareholders last week voted to approve the merger between the two licensees, which is scheduled to take place in early March. First announced in September 2023, the combined firm will create the third-largest licensee in Australia behind AMP and Insignia. 

Speaking at the time, Count said: “The combination of these highly complementary businesses will create a leading financial services provider with substantial increases in scale across Count’s existing wealth, accounting and service division.

“Count has identified approximately $3 million in cost synergies and a number of new revenue growth opportunities to be delivered through a rigorous integration and benefit realisation program.”

This week, Count Limited lost six advisers – two from Affinia and four from Count – while Diverger lost five advisers – four at GPS Wealth and one at Merit Wealth. 

At the end of 2023, Count had 367 advisers, a gain of 88 advisers during the year; and Diverger had 379 advisers, which was a drop of 22, according to Wealth Data.

Colin Williams, founder of Wealth Data, said: “It’s not unusual to see losses when there is significant change to ownership. The losses at Diverger are affecting mostly their ‘restricted’ advisers, basically restricted to SMSF admin and set up. These are linked to Merit and GPS wealth. 

“This type of advisers have consistently been falling off the FAR at a faster rate than others, and I don’t think Count will see this as an issue. In fact, when they made the announcement to buy Diverger, they did not include them in their adviser estimates post completion.

“The losses at Count are holistic advisers and would be a bit more worrying I’d imagine. They may have set some new standards and are happy to see some go.”

Six licensee owners were down by two each, including Crown Wealth, Castleguard Trust, Fitzpatricks and Fortnum, and then there was a tail of 25 licensee owners down by one, including Bell Financial Group and Perpetual. 

Looking at licensees that gained advisers, Connie Walker (Focused Financial Advice) was up by 11 advisers, with the majority still current at Crown Wealth. Insignia was up by three, including two new entrants, and Centrepoint was also up by three advisers. 

KDM Financial and Connectus Wealth were both up by two and a tail of 22 licensee owners were up by net one each, including Spark Partnership and Findex.

There were four new entrants this week compared to 16 in the previous week.


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