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Independent advice and restricted for On-Line after Whitechurch deal

On-Line Partnership Group, owner of the IN Partnership network, says it will look to house both independent and restricted advisers following its acquisition of The Whitechurch Network.

Last week, On-Line Partnership announced it will acquire Whitechurch in a deal that will grow its team of 570 financial and mortgage advisers to 750.

In April, Whitechurch said it intends to remain fully independent following the RDR, after previously saying it would offer a restricted service.

On-Line Partnership joint chief executive Gordon McNeill says restricted advisers will be housed in both IN Partnership and Whitechurch.

He says: “Our aim is to facilitate whatever it is the adviser base wants to do. We see ourselves as able to support any adviser within the networks.”

The firm, which also owns mortgage broker network Innovate Mortgages, says it will operate IN Partnership and Whitechurch as separate entities for the “foreseeable future”. The deal is in the final stages and is waiting for FSA approval for a change of controller.

On-Line chief executive Kevin McDonagh and joint chief executives Stephen Baldry and Gordon McNeill will join the Whitechurch board alongside Whitechurch chairman Kean Seager, managing director Ian McIver, compliance director Gaynor Newman and finance director Robert Dyte.

The Whitechurch network posted a £58,848 profit for 2011 after a £103,077 loss in 2010. It has a total of around 180 advisers, including 30 mortgage and general insurance advisers.

McIver says: “We are excited at becoming part of this larger group and being able to deliver an even better level of service to our members.”

On-Line Partnership Group says it is not actively seeking further acquisitions before the end of 2012.

Threesixty Services managing director Phil Young says: “This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of mergers and acquisitions in the run-up to the RDR. There are a lot more firms looking to make these moves over the next few months.”

Barretts Financial Solutions senior partner Kim Barrett says: “I would not be surprised to see more acquisitions and mergers but I worry that it will be very difficult for growing networks to ensure compliance across all advisers.”

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