netwealth’s Bridgeport on acquisition trail

Bridgeport eyes acquisition opportunities in the eastern states.

20-Jul-2015

By Julie May

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Netwealth’s salaried advice business Bridgeport Financial Services has identified growth as a key priority, signalling this objective would be achieved organically and through acquisitions planned in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Speaking to financialobserver, Bridgeport general manager Cameron Cogle pointed to the business’s most recent acquisition of Empire Financial Planning, which had about $100 million in funds under advice (FUA), stating that Bridgeport was looking to make further transactions in that space.

“We’re looking for firms with around $100 million in FUA. However, in saying that, we are still having conversations with firms that have anywhere from $50 [million] to $400 million,” Cogle said, adding the business was seeking advice practices with a diverse client base.

“Our preference is to acquire firms that are not heavily weighted in one particular area - so businesses that have a spread of accumulation, risk and retiree clients.”

He said the business was largely targeting principals who wanted to sell and who maybe had not given a lot of thought to their succession strategy or had personal reasons for exiting the industry.

“We’d really like to do three transactions in the next 12 months, but we do have a stringent diligence process, so we might look at 100 and only get one or two,” he said.

For business owners looking at succession or exit strategies, Cogle said Bridgeport could offer a level of comfort for the seller as it had a sound offering for clients and remaining staff.

He pointed to the group’s access to the investment platform of parent company netwealth, which ranked second for overall functionality in the most recent Investment Trends platform report, and had also recently launched managed account capabilities.

“We’ve also got great back office functionality and a good support structure, and we’re very keen to develop our internal talent,” he said of advisers and paraplanners joining the business.

“We also underwent a restructure six months ago, so we’ve also got our set advisers who go out and see our A and B clients, and then we have our associate advisers who concentrate on our C and D clients and do a lot of that work over the phone,” he said, emphasising the business had been concentrating on streamlining operational efficiency.

“We’re actually looking for another associate adviser right now, and really we’re open to talking to people generally,” he said.

Further, Cogle said not only could planners move from the associate adviser role to being on the road and meeting the group’s A and B clients, but opportunities also existed down the track to become self-employed if that was the path they wanted to take.

Netwealth’s separate self-employed business, Financial Planning Services Australia (FPSA), provided that option to transition, he said.

Bridgeport, FPSA and Pathway Licensee Services, which provides solutions to self-licensed advisers, together make up the netwealth Advice Group.

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