Tom Baigrie: ‘The world has moved on’ from independent/restricted debate


Baigrie Davies co-founder Tom Baigrie says “the world has moved on” from the independent versus restricted advice debate after completing a deal that sees it become the London office of Standard Life-owned 1825.

Baigrie will leave the business following the expected completion of the deal in Q3 and says he has no concerns about the loss of its independent status.

He says: “The world has moved on since the FCA instigated the ‘restricted’ definition. Nowadays tax wrappers and product structures are there to enable the delivery of the financial plan and have become far more commoditised and neutral in their influence on advice and selection.  

Once product features were all important and what advisers used to focus on, but financial planning is a far more evolved discipline. In financial planning the focus is on client objectives and outcomes rather than product features. 

“The areas where independence is really still of use are not in mainstream investing.  In other mainstream areas like protection and annuities and in more specialised ‘products for the few’ like EIS, VCT, structured products and Qrops there is no change in our range of choice.”

Baigrie argues negative connotations around the term “restricted” have potentially led “more product-focused” advisers to see the independent label as superior.

He says: “What defines the quality of advice is no longer its label, but the capability, resource and lack of conflict in the research team supporting it, and above all its value in achieving the clients life and financial plan.”

Co-founder Arthur Davies will remain with the business following the deal alongside managing director Ian Howe, who will lead the London operation and join the 1825 executive committee.

Baigrie will exit to concentrate on his other business, protection broker LifeSearch.

The comments come after Carl Lamb, managing director of another 1825 acquisition, Almary Green, argued “the vast majority” of firms would follow in crossing over to restricted models.

Writing for Money Marketing, Lamb said:  “Over the past year I have taken a long, hard look at Almary Green’s sustainability and concluded something needed to be done.

“It is a sad fact firms of all sizes are facing almost insurmountable challenges and neither the Government nor the regulator seem to appreciate the difficulties ahead of us.”

He added: “I have challenged many of the preconceptions of our industry in the past and believe change is both necessary and beneficial.

“I also believe the vast majority of firms will follow us down the restricted route. Indeed, I worry about the affordability – and viability – of those that do not. To continue as we were would have been putting our future in jeopardy.

“Far better to be first to cross to the other side and find it is not so dark after all.”