4th October 2019
Whitechurch is a well-respected national company known for providing Wealth Management and Advisory services. However, Whitechurch has also been providing retirement solutions for small advisory firms looking to exit the profession for many years now. We continue to speak to many advisers who invariably, as a starting point just want to talk through matters as a starting point. We have answered the top three questions and topics that arise in conversation below.
Just who and how are my clients looked after?
This is such a key question. We have always said that regardless of the terms of any negotiations it this one point that ultimately matters.
Selling your advisory business is not a sale, it’s an emotional sale. Your clients are more than just that – they have invariably become longstanding friends. Importantly, despite the technicalities, if your clients are unhappy with matters post sale it will be you they still call!
Clients that transition are looked after by our Financial Advisory Team within Whitechurch Financial Consultants. They provide a highly qualified personally tailored quality advice service and as far as possible will replicate the service that you currently provide to your clients
To be more precise, when your clients move across they are allocated to a single adviser as this ensures continuity and uniformity. Quite simple really, but we would stress that we are not a large acquisition business with a vertically integrated model approach. We like to think that your clients would feel that the relationship they have with one of our advisers is akin to the relationship they have with yourself.
A subsidiary question often asked is how will we service clients if you are not geographically close to Bristol?
We do not see this as a problem. Whitechurch Financial Consultants is a national adviser firm and where it is commercially viable we will still meet clients on a face to face basis. Indeed we have taken on firms as far afield as County Durham and Lizard Point in Cornwall and we also have a satellite office based in Chelmsford. If the situation arises where we inherit a significant client bank or there are a number of client banks in one area, we will consider basing someone in that area to service those clients.
What are the payment terms?
Let’s be honest, the assumption tends to be that an acquisition is always done with an ‘upfront’ payment (consideration)
Well, firstly it is never all ‘upfront’ and payments are invariably staggered over 3 payments. Consideration can also be subject to the business achieving ‘performance criteria’ over any relevant earn out period. It’s an area that has to be considered carefully as what can appear to quite a simple approach can often have several moving parts.
An alternative one of determining the payment terms is often overlooked and that is that the value of any current recurring income is continued to be paid as a percentage over an agreed period of time. Many of our past acquisitions have been done this way with the adviser preferring the ongoing regularity of income. With this method of payment, the performance criteria aspect of things is no longer something that has to be considered.
For clarification purposes, obtaining Entrepreneurs’ Relief is available on both types of payment terms. We reiterate this point as many advisers we speak to think that it is only available with ‘upfront’ payment terms and can, therefore, ignore a perfectly reasonable alternative avenue for payment terms.
Do I have to stay on as an adviser?
This is an interesting one. Technically the answer can range from “Not at all” (from the buyer's point of view) to “I would have thought you would have insisted” (from the seller's point of view). Ultimately it is based on circumstances
We recommend that the clients are taken on a journey when an acquisition is being considered and in doing so there is no further need for any ex-adviser to be involved post sale.
However, often the selling adviser would prefer to be involved post sale as an adviser in the acquiring firm even if this is simply to make the introduction of clients to any new adviser easier and arrange for new fee agreements to be completed. Remember we are now in a post RDR world so simply changing agencies is now a thing of the past. The eventual withdrawal of the selling adviser tends to then be less clinical and provides for a soft landing.
In practice, we would look to have joint meetings with your clients so that they get to know the new adviser who will be dealing with them and we would exercise a period of joint working.
If any of the above is of interest, or indeed you have some additional questions then please do contact us. Your individual circumstances can be discussed over the telephone or probably more enjoyably over a coffee face to face. There is never any obligation and we fully accept that the start of any journey is you getting answers to questions that have or possibly those that you don’t know you have!