While we all enjoy an Elon-esque announcement, perhaps Lloyds might temper their aspirations somewhat; or should they?
There are after all any number of examples outside of plain acquisition where organic expansion has been pursued and achieved over the past 18 months; Tilney Group, Brewin Dolphin, SJP and Aviva have all pursued the strategy and achieved success.
Conceivably, this is scalable and achievable in conjunction with acquisition; perhaps not in the same time frame, but after all, we have only seen the headlines so far and lack a large amount of the ‘meat on the bone’ for its inception.
What remains clear is that the UK faces an impending shortage of advisers to cover an ever-increasing demand for advice. The 2015 pension freedoms and ageing population in need of retirement advice makes for a fantastic growth prospect for many of the UK’s Wealth Managers both large and small, however it feels the sector is getting further and further away from being able to adequately deliver that advice in the numbers needed.
It goes without saying, that based on day-to-day concerns that we encounter from advisers and owners alike, these fall into three key areas; the first and foremost being a growing regulatory burden, the secondary being the regulatory challenges to existing business models and the third being retaining and hiring talented advisers.
The FCA reported in January 2018 that there were nearly 26,000 advisers working in the industry, but with pressures posed by retiring advisers and average age widely reported as being 50+ years, the latest heath report published in January highlighted the peril over the next 5 years as nearly 7,000 advisers exit as a result of planned retirement and regulatory pressures. So, while numbers have begun to pick up albeit at a rather trundling pace, there seems to be no silver bullet for the problem at hand; there is a gap and it continues to grow. We face the very real prospect reported by the Financial Times in January that only 18,000 advisers are expected to still be working in 10 years time.
While I am sure many may fear that Lloyd's may only contribute to the bottom line of some of the more notable wealth management publications as we watch the headlines role into 2019, is there not a part of all commentators that wishes them success?
Perhaps ‘blue sky thinking’, certainly aspirational, but the looming problem remains; there is simply not enough being done to bridge the advice gap. While SJP continuously earns the enmity of many independent advisers in the market it’s academy had more than 400 graduates joining the firm’s partnership since its establishment in 2012. Should Lloyds achieve its 700 target, I can only hope that whether directly or indirectly it leads to an increase in the number of advisers in the sector. Whether independent, restricted it will be one more than we had yesterday.
If you enjoy James Ward’s 1824 oil paint on wood ‘The Black Horse’, it is currently part of the Tate collection.