Count eyes success as significant wealth player

quality of advice review Countplus Hugh Humphrey

9 May 2023
| By Laura Dew |
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Count’s chief executive, Hugh Humphrey, hopes the move away from CountPlus will help the firm streamline its branding as it acquires Affinia.

Last week, CountPlus shareholders voted with 99 per cent approval to rename the business as Count. 

Count Financial was formed in 1980 by Barry Lambert and was purchased by Commonwealth Bank (CBA) in 2011. CountPlus was launched as a subsidiary of Count Financial in 2006 and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2010. It then went on to acquire Count Financial from CBA in 2019.

Speaking to Money Management, Humphrey, who took on the role of managing director and CEO in May 2022 from Matthew Rowe, said the decision to rebrand was driven by a desire to clarify and simplify the firm’s branding.

Four Count-aligned firms had already decided to move to the Count branding, which Humphrey said gave them a clear alignment as businesses for customer recognition and referrals.

“We are moving to one clear proposition as a way to simplify and streamline the business; we wanted to bring the two businesses closer together," he said.

“We had a lot of feedback that it was complex and confusing to understand; it hasn’t always been seamless for clients, so we knew we had to be really clear about what we do.

“We are already one of Australia’s wealth managers based on client numbers and funds under administration and now we have the unique opportunity to be a significant player. We have already achieved a lot and there’s more we can do.”

A big part of this future growth came from Affinia, which CountPlus acquired from TAL earlier this year. The deal was expected to be completed at the end of May, and the combined business would have 400 advisers and $17 billion in client funds under administration, representing 3,500 clients.

Humphrey said he had been an admirer of the Affinia business and one particular benefit was Affinia’s evenly divided revenue split between super, investment advice and risk advice, an area where CountPlus had less presence. 

“They are a terrific holistic advice business; half of the revenue comes from super and investment advice and half comes from risk advice. Whereas at CountPlus, 80 per cent is from super and investment advice and just 20 per cent from risk advice. 

“There’s been a lot of changes in the risk space lately, so this is an area where our advisers can learn from Affinia; they have a deep expertise in risk and will fit in well with Count and improve our ability to give risk advice.”

In the future, he said he could envisage the business being made up of large firms that offered clients both accountants and advisory services on investment, super and risk.

“We are already overwhelmed with client demand for advice and are assessing how fast we can meet those needs while still growing sensibly. Even with the Affinia growth, there are still more people who need advice than we can service. 

“Hopefully the Quality of Advice Review will be implemented and that will deliver benefits to the industry.”

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Submitted by Yogi on Tue, 2023-05-09 09:31

back to good ol' days. Race to have the most AR's and the DG pressures advisers to maximise [the DG] profits. it indoctrination. Advisers are forced to sell crap and stick to a crap APL for the profits of DG. it is a failed model for clients. rebrand at an attempt to re write history. they will have a field day if QAR gets up.

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