WT Financial Group is continuing its business expansion to have more ‘substantially’ more advisers than the average mid-tier sized financial planning group through organic growth and further potential acquisitions.
The company, which announced yesterday the acquisition of Sentry Group, said the combined entity would have around 275 advisers, across over 200 practices in Australia, with Sentry currently providing licensing solutions to around 155 authorised representatives (ARs).
However, WT Financial Group’s managing director, Keith Cullen, told Money Management that his business was well positioned to even double that number over the next few years, given the time was ‘ideal’ as the industry disruption continued, presenting more opportunities. But he stressed that the quality of practices must come first.
“From the market perspective it as an ideal time [to make the Sentry’s acquisition] as now advisers need the right support from their dealer groups and dealer groups need scale within to be able to afford to fund the right level of experience personnel to support their advisers,” he said.
“We are not pursuing a growth-to-growth rate but what we want is to add quality practices and we want to build it in a structured fashion and one of the great things about the Sentry acquisition is that it brought more resources to the business,” he said.
According to Cullen, the move represented a ‘transformational acquisition’ which would set up his business as a serious competitor to the other independent listed entities such as Centrepoint Alliance, CountPlus or Sequoia Financial Group which individually have between 250 and 400 advisers.
“The organic growth through luring in more advisers is something we are doing because we have got a good proposition [for advisers] and we get a lot of referrals from our existing advisers based on their fellow advisers looking to move dealer groups. But we will also be looking for acquisitions of other AFSLs as well,” Cullen stressed.
Asked about the ongoing exodus of advisers from the industry, he said it would not affect the groups like his, as most of advisers who were planning on not extending their qualifications had already left.
“What we will see will be the rationalisation within the advice practice level and given that we are coming off the relatively small base and there are thousands of advisers out there, so let’s just say we’ve got an objective to grow to 500 advisers within the next couple of years, we do not think it is going to have a material impact on us in the future,” Cullen said.
“We think some consolidation in the industry at practice level is probably a sensible thing anyway and end up building better practices and therefore better support for clients.”