Standard Life‘s advice business 1825 is setting its sights on the south coast of England, Northern Ireland and the Midlands for its next acquisitions.
The business will also look to “bolster” what it already offers in other parts of the UK.
1825 is seeking national coverage by establishing regional hubs.
It already has a presence in London, Bristol, northern England, north-west England, and Glasgow.
The business has 80 financial planners across 14 locations providing face-to face and telephone advice to around 9,000 clients.
Standard Life chief executive Barry O’Dwyer tells Money Marketing 1825 is actively looking for businesses to acquire and is in ongoing discussions with advice firms, however he is clear not all of these talks may lead to a transaction.
He says: “We have a high bar in terms of the quality of firm that we are prepared to buy and that is borne out by the quality of firms we have bought thus far.”
Standard Life Aberdeen’s half year results published today show 1825 continues to make a loss three years after its launch. For the first six months of 2018, 1825 made a loss of £1m.
However, O’Dwyer says when 1825 is looked at as its own business covering its own costs it actually makes a profit.
O’Dwyer says: “From a management accounting perspective it makes a positive contribution to Standard Life Aberdeen. It is just when we allocate central costs to the individual businesses that it turns a profit at 1825 to an overall loss.”
He says: “1825’s best years are ahead of it. We want to continue to invest to grow that business. We are taking a 10-year view of it. The demand for advice is going to explode in the UK and we need to now be building the infrastructure that is going to be needed to satisfy that demand.”
O’Dwyer says Standard Life’s “ultimate vision” for 1825 is for it to be a combination of digital and face-to-face advice.
In June, 1825 was named as one of the new businesses to be included in the FCA’s advice unit to develop a robo-advice service.
O’Dwyer says the robo plans involve ways to automate parts of the advice process, such as fact finds, but could not give full details at this stage as it is still in the development stage.
He says: “We are concentrating on how we make advisers five, 10 or 20-times more productive by digitising some of the work that is done currently and helping clients get to an adviser meeting at a much more advanced stage than they are currently.”