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Towry to launch simplified advice service

Towry is set to launch a telephone and online advice service in the coming months, Money Marketing can reveal.

Speaking to Money Marketing, Towry chief executive Rob Devey says the firm is in the process of building a team to deliver simplified advice.

As part of Towry’s acquisition of the advice arm of Baker Tilly, announced in April, the wealth manager acquired telephone and online advice service Link2Wealth.

Devey says: “We have trialled that with Towry clients and are looking at scaling it up.

“Our starting point is providing full financial planning, but there are some clients who want to do things in a different way for all or parts of their portfolio.

“Clients expect to be able to interact on their own terms with service providers. Our industry is not great at doing that, and that is not good enough.”

Devey says the majority of Towry’s business will still be conducted face-to-face.

He says the firm has not yet decided on the brand of the service and declined to give charging details, but says it will launch in the next few months.

He adds: “This is not in response to the Government’s pension freedoms; it is for relatively simple transactions, whereas the reforms create a lot of complex planning needs.”

Devey says Towry is unlikely to make any further acquisitions this year, after it reached a deal to buy Ashcourt Rowan for £97m in February.

“This is a big deal and there is only so much we can do at one time,” he says. “We need to focus on getting the integration right for clients and staff, and getting the financial benefits we want to.”

He says Towry remains open minded on whether Ashcourt Rowan will stay independent, and argues there is little difference between the two firms’ offerings.

He says: “This is an inwardly-looking issue that most clients would find very confusing, especially given the difference between what Ashcourt Rowan and Towry offer is very small.

“We are neither wedded to one label or the other, underpinned by the fact that from everything we hear from our clients, they really don’t mind.”

Devey says the firm has no plans to change the products or solutions that clients are in, even if Ashcourt Rowan were to become restricted.

“In reality, there are only two areas that Towry doesn’t advise on, so it wouldn’t take us very much to research those areas,” he says. Towry does not currently advise on investment trusts or structured products.

More widely, Devey says the advice industry is going through a period of “more permanent and disciplined” consolidation than in the past.

“What we are seeing is the early stages of what happened in the other professional services such as legal and accountancy,” he says.

“There are still smaller regional firms and specialists in those sectors, but a few big players emerged. We haven’t got that many big brands in our industry and we think that will happen and we will be one of those players.”

But Devey says there is “absolutely” a future for small IFA businesses and argues there is room in the market for a wide range of business models.

He says: “People like to cast this as David and Goliath, but different types of clients want different things and all kinds of business models can happily co-exist alongside each other.

“We do not have asset growth targets and what we are trying to do is build a national financial planning-led wealth manager for the long-term. We think there is a real opportunity and need for that, but we don’t think it will obliterate all other business models in the market.”

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