Bringing you live news and features since 2013
Bringing you news, views and analysis since 2013
Hugh Elwes, Stephens
Hugh Elwes, Stephens

51262

More M&A coming to resilient UK wealth space

RELATED TOPICS​

Hugh Elwes, managing director at Stephens, writes that the UK wealth management sector continues to display remarkable resilience, despite ongoing economic challenges.

While inflation has cooled, pricing pressures remain higher in the UK than in many developed market peers. Despite this, monetary easing could be on the horizon as we move through 2024.

As savings rates have moved higher over the past year or so, mass affluent and high-net-worth (HNW) investors have recently been relatively content with allocations to traditional safe instruments – such as deposit accounts, cash ISAs, and short-term government bonds. However, the imminent end of the rate hike cycle could be a catalyst for increased exposure to higher-risk investment solutions – which bodes well for the wealth management sector.

Structural drivers and ongoing innovation

Additionally, the UK wealth space also remains structurally well-positioned. As the majority of the UK’s investable wealth is concentrated among those approaching or already in retirement, the flexibility offered by pensions freedoms has underscored the need for sound investment advice. This continues to accelerate demand for intelligent tech-enabled wealth solutions.

While personal liquid assets total a massive £2trn in the UK, just 30% is currently under the control of independent financial advisors (IFAs) and tied advisers – with a substantial portion remaining trapped in low-yield savings accounts or outdated life and pension products. The opportunity to reallocate these funds to higher-performing wealth management solutions is immense.

Innovative, cost-effective wealth services have also expanded in recent years. However, while robo-adviser platforms such as Nutmeg and Wealthify have gained traction, many individuals still seek a certain level of human advice and reassurance throughout the wealth journey. Given the intricacies of pensions and tax regulations, many experts still require guidance in navigating the complexities.

This has spurred the growth of hybrid advice models, which blend technology-enabled guided advice with human interaction. Additionally, people are increasingly utilising multiple touchpoints in the management of wealth – combining self-service platforms like Interactive Investor and AJ Bell with the expertise of IFAs, financial planners, and discretionary managers.

Small entities ripe for further consolidation

Despite on-going advancements, the sector remains fragmented – housing over 5,000 firms and more than 27,000 advisers. The majority of firms are small, with 90 per cent containing five or fewer advisers. The pressure to consolidate stems from various sources, including an ageing adviser base, retirement planning considerations, heightened regulatory requirements, and general cost inflation.

Private equity investment is driving this consolidation wave, with more than 30 active consolidators in the market. This trend aligns with renewed interest from both domestic and international entities – such as RBC’s acquisition of Brewin Dolphin, the purchase of 7IM by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Aviva’s deal for Succession. While consolidation is broadly on the rise, the straightforward acquisitions have already occurred, which has driven up pricing and necessitated increasingly nuanced strategies for successful integration. This includes tapping into cost synergies, consolidating platforms, and vertically integrating functions like in-house investment management.

Looking ahead, we anticipate an acceleration of M&A among smaller firms, along with the eventual sale of consolidation entities by sponsor owners once attractive returns are achieved. These entities could merge with other consolidators, be acquired by larger sponsors to sustain the momentum, or become targets for banks and insurance companies. However, not all wealth businesses have the same value creation model – careful presentation of the business and the investment case is increasingly important for unlocking premium valuations.

While the UK has faced a number of significant challenges in recent years, a lowering of rates could provide renewed optimism for the economy as we advance further into 2024. But irrespective of broader macro prospects, we expect the multiple tailwinds powering the dynamic wealth management space to continue apace for the foreseeable future.

Latest News

GAM Investments and Sun Hung Kai & Co, a Hong Kong-based alternative investment firm, are..
PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2024-28, covering 13 sectors across 53 countries and territories,..
London-based Nickel Digital Asset Management (Nickel) writes that it has delivered a record first half..

Related Articles

Green energy
2024 has been the strongest ever year for green bond sales, with deals topping USD356 billion in the first six months, according to research from Bloomberg...
2024 has been the strongest ever year for green bond sales, with deals topping USD356 billion in the first six..
infrastructure headline
The new Labour government has launched a GBP7.3 billion National Wealth Fund which will target private capital to support the UK’s growth ambitions...
The new Labour government has launched a GBP7.3 billion National Wealth Fund which will target private capital to support the..
Tom McPhail, lang cat
Today’s news of a landslide victory from the UK’s Labour party, finds that the markets had mostly factored in a widely predicted Labour win...
Today’s news of a landslide victory from the UK’s Labour party, finds that the markets had mostly factored in a..
Pensions might not feature at the top of the political parties’ manifesto promises this election, but their role in driving the UK’s growth ambitions is increasingly on investors’ agendas...
Pensions might not feature at the top of the political parties’ manifesto promises this election, but their role in driving..
Subscribe to the Institutional Asset Manager newsletter

Subscribe for access to our weekly newsletter, newsletter archive, updates on the site and exclusive email content.

Marketing by