Iconic NZ financial advice brand, Spicers, could be consigned to history as owner AMP Financial Services moves to rationalise its distribution network.
Blair Vernon, AMP director of advice and sales, told Investment News NZ (IN NZ), Spicers and sister advisory firm, AdviceFirst, would merge under a single management structure.
“Following a strategic review of market opportunities, we intend to integrate the sales and management functions of AdviceFirst and Spicers to AdviceFirst to deliver synergies from two complementary businesses,” Vernon told IN NZ.
He said while the dual brands remain in place for the time-being “the management teams of Spicers and AdviceFirst are reviewing the appropriate operating model for the combined business”.
On its website Spicers lists three senior managers, headed by Chris Wright, compared to an eight-strong management team at AdviceFirst led by CEO, Mark Ennis.
“There are no changes for clients to the day-to-day operations of the respective brands, and we envisage a range of positive opportunities to flow from the larger business as we work through integration opportunities in the second half of 2016, ultimately benefiting all stakeholders,” Vernon said.
Spicers, or more formally Spicers Portfolio Management, is one of New Zealand’s most long-lived advice brands with its roots dating back to 1986. The group is associated with some of the stalwarts of the NZ financial services industry most notably the current head of PGC, George Kerr. Kerr famously brokered the 2001 deal that saw Axa splash out $245 million for Sterling Grace – Spicers then-parent company that also included the multi-management operation Arcus and administration platform, Assure.
Kerr netted a reported $30 million plus from the sale.
Spicers and its various components were tipped into AMP after it bought Axa Asia Pacific following a contentious sales process in 2011.
In the deal AMP also inherited nascent advisory group, AdviceFirst, which was launched in 2008 under Ralph Stewart’s reign as Axa NZ chief. AMP also merged former independent advisory firm, Goldridge, with AdviceFirst after purchasing the group in 2014.
According to the latest Financial Markets Authority (FMA) figures, the more investment-oriented Spicers has 38 authorised financial advisers (AFAs) operating under its auspices compared to 36 aligned to the ‘holistic’ financial planning AdviceFirst brand.
Spicers reports about $1.3 billion in funds under advice while AdviceFirst claims to be the “largest financial advice business of our type”.
Vernon said a “combined enterprise” would create a “nationwide network of advice specialists serving over 50,000 clients through 26 locations across the country”.