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Acquisitive advisers still seeking to buy

If there is one key message that the IFA sector seems to want to communicate, it is that their plans for 2007 include “more of the same”.

Thinc Group chief executive Chamberlain and The Money Portal managing director Richard Craven have made no secret of the fact that they are very much on the acquisition trail.

Following Thinc’s last spell of integrating the 32 businesses it acquired a few years ago, the bedding-in period has now been completed.

But the group refuses to be complacent. Chamberlain says now being debt-free and with the financial backing of Axa, The Thinc Group is in position to starting buying up other businesses again.

Thinc is in talks with around 20 intermediary firms exploring acquisition possibilities but it hopes by the early part of the year to have reduced the number to a handful it will then look at snapping up.

TMP is another highly acquisitive business. Group distribution director Alan Easter often describes the business as an “asset-gathering machine”. Following last year’s purchases of Millfield, Clearwell and Swaines adding to the stable of Bates Investment Services, Bates Millfield, Sage Financial Services, Willis Owen, GP Noble Trustees and Lifetime Estate Planning, the TMP group looks pretty full to capacity. But Easter and Craven will be sure to keep on growing, regardless of the regulatory status or “breed” of adviser, providing the quality is up to scratch.

Sesame keeps ticking along despite many changes at parent company Misys over the last 12 months. Although Misys has made it clear that Sesame is not core to the business, it has so far failed to collect the price tag that had been hoped for by the board.

It seems there is no massive rush to sell it off and Sesame’s management team appear unperturbed, carrying on business as usual with their multi-faceted model of support.

Similarly, SimplyBiz and Tenet appear content with their models and are seeing successful organic growth and an upsurge in IFA numbers and strategic partners through both technology-based and product provider links.

Threesixty believes that the model of support services for directly authorised firms will continue to overtake the network model as the way forward for IFAs.

It focuses on more specialist and fee-based IFAs, giving it a niche in the compliance support space.

Elsewhere, Bankhall is concentrating its efforts on three main areas next year – profit, aggregation and business development.

It looks set to hone in on the mortgage market’s compliance needs, spotting the opportunity to harness mortgage advisers’ growing need for additional support.

If much of last year was spent settling down after M-Day, this year is going to be spent figuring out what to do with regulation and how to tweak business practices accordingly. Support companies take note – those not already tapping in to this area perhaps ought to.

Bankhall’s other big news next year is going to be when it enters the wrap space.

The company has held back from its competitors, promising a wrap scheme that it says will make the industry sit up and think.

It says that it had no intention of procrastinating only to launch with a metoo proposition. February should see the results of these deliberately delayed plans unveiled.

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