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IFA growth continues and tech takes centre stage

It’s been a successful week for a handful of IFA firms with Cavanagh Group posting a 49 per cent profit increase in this week’s annual results.

The group reported a growth in pre-tax profit from £1.046m to £1.556m to the year ended December 31, 2007.

Its turnover also grew 18 per cent from £14.112m to £16.638m.

As with several other mid-size IFAs, Cavanagh intends to follow last year’s acquisition of employee benefits specialist adviser JRG – for which it paid £5.3m – with further purchases on the horizon, which form part of its plan to increase fee-based advice from the 40 per cent of business it already accounts for.

Elsewhere, Clarkson Hill is showing healthy turnover and adviser recruitment but a 44 per cent fall in profits from £11,591 to £6,439 for the six months from August 1, 2007 to January 31, 2008.

A Clarkson Hill spokesman says the fall in profits is most likely due to higher administration expenses, which increased from £1.726m to £1.788m for the same periods.

But the Aim-listed national IFA saw turnover rise 26 per cent from £8.476m to £10.681m and adviser numbers have increased 17 per cent, from 303 last year to 354 in January, which it says shows a healthy and encouraging business model.

Chief executive Ron Pritchard says: “Our latest results prove that our model is successful and sustainable, despite how challenging the current economic climate can be for any growing business. We will continue to focus on the recruitment of qualified and quality financial advisers to further increase funds under management and improve profitability.”

While British Telecom is planning to set the world alight in the financial services technology space, developing plans for an insurance hub to centralize e-commerce, technology systems and communication platforms between IFAs, third party software administrators and insurance companies, part of its plans include the acquisition of technology companies including Origo and Assureweb, with parts of Vertex and Capita also ripe for the taking.

Multi-tie network Openwork is also showing signs of expanding beyond its core remit, having signed a deal with Distribution Technology to build a front office point of sale platform.

Advisers will use the service from their fact-finds and needs analysis to competition of suitability documentation.

Distribution Technology will build the platform using the template of its Dynamic Point of Sale application, which launched in May last year.

Openwork chief operating officer Peter Ellen says the automation of its advice process will play a central part in the business’s future success.

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