It’s not easy to restructure a £110bn company. Old Mutual’s separation and rebrand has been two years in the making and has another two to go before the advice and platform businesses planners know so well fall under the new banner of Quilter.
It’s not an accident that Old Mutual took the Quilter name – the brand that featured in its discretionary management business Quilter Cheviot and nowhere else within the group or outside it. It reflects a move across the life company piece towards the higher margins in asset management and away from fiddly legacy pension books. It’s a more subtle way of saying “we are a top notch investment company”, but very much falls in step with Standard Life’s decision to rebrand as Aberdeen Standard Investments; the perceived investment management expertise comes first.
There are challenges ahead for Old Mutual. Cost savings have a habit of failing to materialise in huge restructures such as this and the costs of actually executing them always seem to spiral.
There is also no doubt that clients being served by Intrinsic or Old Mutual Private Client Advisers will feel reassured by the backing of the Old Mutual brand. Quilter is a lesser-known entity in the public’s imagination. I’m sure there has been rigorous testing of the impact of the name change, but the work of “branding consultants” has been rightly viewed with a dash of scepticism in UK financial services.
Regardless, we all know that brand comes second to service when it comes to financial planning. I’d be surprised if across the entire Old Mutual client bank more than a handful of clients baulk when they are told they are now served by Quilter Financial Planning and not Intrinsic.
Yes, Old Mutual may have a slightly harder time in winning new clients, but with so many touchpoints to find new money and enough budget for slick marketing, customers probably aren’t going to turn their nose up at the opportunity to join Quilter Private Client Advisers instead of Old Mutual Wealth Private Client Advisers.
Ultimately, the only people Old Mutual does need to keep happy are its advisers. Rightly or wrongly, they are absolutely key to powering its remaining investment propositions. As you can read in our second lead feature on page 11 this week, 60 per cent of flows to Quilter Cheviot and Old Mutual Global Investors’ multi-asset strategies come from a combination of Intrinsic and PCA planners.
On that note, a quick aside on transparency: I really do have to applaud Old Mutual for revealing those numbers. As you will see from that second lead feature, it was the only one of 10 firms we approached regarding how its own advisers picked their in-house funds to respond to what we thought were relatively simple questions around flows, investment limits, due diligence and benchmarking.
There is nothing inherently evil in vertical integration, but advisers and clients deserve greater clarity on the models we are actually debating.
Justin Cash is editor of Money Marketing. Follow him on Twitter @Justin_Cash_1