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Countrywide launches IFA consolidator led by Intrinsic founder

Property services group Countrywide and US-based investment management firm Oaktree Capital Management are launching an adviser consolidation vehicle.

Bellpenny is expected to launch in July subject to FSA approval.

Countrywide group chief executive officer Grenville Turner will be chairman, with Intrinsic Financial Services founder Kevin Ronaldson (pictured) as chief executive.

Countrywide financial services director and former Halifax Bank of Scotland Intermediary managing director Nigel Stockton is a non-executive director and Zurich Independent IFA founder Dawn Pearce-Herzberg is operations director. It has recruited former Towergate Financial head of acquisitions Dominic Rose as acquisitions director and Sandy Bryson, who developed national IFA businesses including Rensburg Sheppard, as sales director.

Stockton says Bellpenny has an acquisition war chest in the tens of millions of pounds, with other tranches of funding available in future. It is targeting up to 60 adviser acquisitions in the first 18 months and will offer a restricted advice proposition.

Bellpenny will look to acquire client banks and adviser assets but liability for advice given before the acquisition will remain with the original firm.

Turner says: “With Oaktree and Countrywide’s full backing, Bell-penny will provide any IFA thinking of exiting the market with a fully funded cash option and the assurance that clients will be properly looked after by highly regarded professionals.”

Page Russell director Tim Page says: “There is a big difference between buying client books and delivering a consistent advice offering.”


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There are 10 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. what is in it for the clients 10th May 2012 at 8:40 am

    All these types of deals leave one question. ” What is in it for the clients ?”

  2. So people who have a record of failure and putting profit before standards, ethics and basic human rights are going to deliver a consistent advice offering from professionals on a limited advice basis. In related news world famine is over and politicians are going to stick to their election promises and stop making excuses.

  3. Here we go!

    By implementing RDR in such a hasty cliff edge fashion without due consideration of the very real consequences of alienating the IFA sector and hundreds of thousands of ordinary policyholders, the FSA has, at a stroke, distorted the market by enabling such huge and unsupportable consolidations, especially as the proposal seems to be offering a “restricted” advice service, so the poor consumer, who will probably never really understand what is going on with the acquisition of his plans renewal/trail commission, will be placed into a situation whereby he / she will only receive a “restricted” advice service and will probably not even be made aware of his loss of IFA services.

    One more nail in the coffin for IFAs

    Come on FSA, you can do better than this surely?

  4. Be very surprised if they open in July, been told by FSA that it takes them up to a year to add permissions never mind setting up a nationwide brokerage operation. Or is it the usual? The bigger you are the less the FSA has influence on you?

  5. It,s a shame Les Dawson died but there is still comedy around, Countrywide have thousands of mortgage clients but it would appear no desire to offer any proposal to them now! More clients but still no proposal headed by the team that said what happened to the mortgage book we just sold!

  6. I have been an IFA for over 27 years. However, during the last decade I have had considerable experience of organisations whose sole aim in expanding their businesses has been to buy “client banks” or “servicing rights” of companies which are either “loss making” or have already gone into administration/liquidation. Unfortunately, client servicing is not always their top priority. The priority for these companies seems to be “let’s do as little as possible and rake in the associated trail commission”.
    Isn’t it time that the FSA introduced some form of regulation to ensure that before this type of purchase can be completed, it is established that the purchasing company has sufficient experienced staff, systems and advisers to provide ongoing advice etc to all those contained within the their now enlarged client bank including those clients contained within the “client bank” which has just been purchased?
    In addition, shouldn’t the FSA also ensure that the purchasing company fully understands their obligations to those clients, i.e. that advice must be given in order to justify the payment of “ongoing trail” and not just notify them of their new “adviser”. The FSA should also make sure that the purchasing company also has the systems in place to quickly determine all client and policy details in order to have a complete and detailed record of all those people contained within the purchased client bank, as without this I do not feel that an adequate service can be provided.
    Much is being made of TCF and all of the work that is being carried out to ensure this is treated as a top priority. It has been my experience that when a “client bank” is purchased, TCF goes to the bottom of the pile, with the emphasis being put on cash flow and the sustaining of “trail” income.
    In conclusion, I can only hope that the Countrywide proposition does not follow the above path and that those clients who are “purchased” continue to receive a level of advice and service which complies with current FSA rules and is also in line with the customers’ requirements

  7. Exasperated Me 10th May 2012 at 11:04 am

    Somebody needs to have a word with Oaktree, some facts appear to have been left out somewhere.

  8. This proposition only has legs if there are enough IFAs out there who want to sell their businesses and transfer their clients into an openly Restricted offering and keep all their own liabilities.
    So – my question is – what would it take for those IFAs to stay in business and continue to look after their clients as IFAs?? And if they really want to retire, where can these firms find acquiring businesses who will continue to look after their clients as IFAs??

  9. Funny how the failed advisers keep popping up with a ‘consolidator’ backed by £millions from some mug or other.

    Clients deserve better, so do the captive hosts of parasitic ‘zombie’ funds.

  10. Let’s be honest, many small firms and some large can’t meet the demands of RDR in terms of adviser skills, investment proposition, or service. I’m sure the individuals posting on here underestimate the struggle that some of us are having right now despite good intentions. Those of us wishing to depart the industry need a good home for their clients. There are some great honest, ethical, and well skilled IFA’s who may feel entirely comfortable working with this organisation after doing some due diligence. After all, I am not the best placed person to find another adviser firm rather than just retire and say after 20 years ‘bye bye and good luck!’. Ultimately, my clients will make their own decision but I hope that I will choose well and take into account the personalities as well. We all know that if the service to the clients isn’t at the heart of the company it won’t survive in any event.

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