The new man overseeing acquisitions at Tenet has had plenty of experience in dealing with difficult mergers and takeovers. John Dick's previous position as managing director of Sedgwick – Barclays' IFA – saw him integrate the 140 Sedgwick RI s into the Barclays' team.
With a wry smile, he describes “making sure everyone was facing in the same direction” and some of the difficulties encountered in the deal. Dick implies he was dealing with a team of entrepreneurs used to doing things their own way, who, faced with change, put up a fair amount of resistance. But he responds diplomatically that this was one of the most interesting and useful experiences of his career.
You have to assume that diplomacy is one of his strong points and he will be using these skills to get ahead with the new plans for Tenet.
As the new group director of business development, he will be in charge of the group's strategic growth plans but will also be heading adviser support company Tenet Business Solutions.
Tenet already owns two traditional IFA networks (M&E and Interdependence) and has 2,250 RI s. It also includes mortgage network IMA and IFA Professional, a bespoke support service for directly regulated IFAs.
The network is looking to double RI numbers to an ambitious 4,500 within two years and is aiming to attract a number of these new recruits from rival networks. He says the Tenet deal will win them over because it not only offers T&C, compliance and PI but, unlike other networks, also “has continued to listen to its members who remain happy customers”.
On whether the PI issue will be a turning point for a mass move over to networks, he says gaining a block policy for the group has not been a problem but that the whole issue is likely to bring more advisers his way.
Tenet kicked off its two-year programme to buy 12 minority stakes in member and associated firms with the purchase of a 20 per cent stake in Ayrshire Financial Services in November last year.
But most of the new RIs will be brought in through expansion of 100-RI firm Capital Planning, which was acquired in January. The group will also be using it as a vehicle to grow the business by taking on more RIs through internal practice buyouts for retiring members of the networks and IFA professionals.
After what Dick describes as a fairly inauspicious start at school in Motherwell, near Glasgow, he followed his bank manager father's footsteps into financial services. But when his father explained he would have to spend at least two years working as a tea boy at the bank, he decided to look around, opting for a job with the Woolwich.
Dick stayed with the Woolwich for more than 20 years, gradually moving up through the ranks and eventually heading the 1,500-strong retail team. He oversaw the Town & Country purchase in the early 1990s before moving on to Sedgwick.
He started working for the group in Aberdeen but has been moving South ever since. On whether he would consider moving back to Scotland, he says: “I love the people up there and the cities but the weather – the rain and the cold coming off the North Sea – no, I don't fancy that again.”
He visits Scotland but usually to a house on one of the smaller islands. He first started going to the island as a child with his parents and thinks “the islanders have just about accepted us now”. This is also where he met his wife who is originally from Michigan in the US. They now live in Kent with their two children. The family travel out to the US at least once a year. He is a keen skier and has skied some of the major resorts in the Rockies. He says his teenage children are now both pretty expert skiers and he begrudgingly admits he now struggles to keep up with his son. He still prefers skiing with his family after a recent trip with friends, which he describes as “all a bit too competitive”.
Although he faces new challenges at Tenet, he is confident in his business solutions team, Vicky Pitt and Simon Davies. Both were previously at Berkeley and will help him develop new businesses that the network takes on.
When asked whether Tenet is planning to recuit any more staff from other networks, he says the group is always looking for good recruits.
He made his own move to Tenet after doing some research into a number of networks and picked it because he says it was consistently described to him as the most “stable and balanced”.
Dick sees consolidation creeping up on the sector rapidly within the next five years with three or four big networks dominating the entire marketplace, the bigger players quickly dividing the smaller IFA practices between them.
Despite his considerable experience in financial services mergers and acquisitions, Dick has never been an IFA. Even amid multi-ties, he is adamant that there will remain a place for the IFA. He is confident that people will continue to seek out an adviser they believe is acting on their behalf and not on behalf of the product provider.
Born: April 6, 1954
Lives: In a village in Kent with his wife and teenage daughter and son.
Education: Took Scottish highers at Allan Glens school, Glasgow
Career: Began training with Woolwich and eventually went on to be lending services manager and a divisional manager. He oversaw the group's Town & Country acquisition in 1990. Became Sedgwick IFC managing director in 1999. Moved to Tenet at the end of December 2002.
Career ambitions: To see Tenet Business Solutions working with more than 60 per cent of Tenet's IFAs.
Life ambitions: To bench-press 250lbs. “I'm only at 180lbs at the moment so have a fair way to go.”
Likes: golf and goes to the gym with his son three times a week
Dislikes: Bureaucracy and 'jobsworth types'
Car: Mercedes ML 270
Peers say: “He has a proven track record within the industry and a good reputation – a thoroughly good chap.”