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Spicers makes the change

One of the biggest financial planning firms now encompasses funds management.

Thursday, February 12th 1998, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

Spicers Financial Services is no longer just a firm of financial planners. The group has completed its transition from being one of the largest financial planning firms to what it now calls a portfolio management company.
The firm, which has about $550 million under management, is vertically integrated from the investment management end of the business right through to the product distribution and delivery end.
Its strength has always been in distribution, but ever since management bought out major shareholder Spicer and Oppenhiem in May 1996 it has been undergoing a transformation.

Just over a year ago it launched its wrap account administration system, which is run by Jacques Martin New Zealand, now it has beefed up its investment management operations.
In the past month former BT Funds Management equity fund manager Paul Glass has bought a stake in the firm, and Equity Partners, a niche fund management firm headed by former New Zealand Funds Management investment manager George Kerr, has been merged with Spicers.
Managing director Craig Dawson says Spicers now has "a very strong (investment) team in terms of ability rather than size."
Spicers offers investors an active, value style of investment through Equity Partners and international firm Morgan Stanley.
Dawson says the moves are all about increasing quality of service and reducing costs.
In his view the model where fund managers, woo advisers who then sell the manager's funds to investors is a "low quality and expensive way" of running a business.
Under the new Spicers' model a layer is taken out of the chain.
Spicers is about to launch a rebranding exercise which signals the end of this two-year metamorphosis.
Besides the change to the business it, last year, launched Spicers Direct, which allows investors to access its funds directly and it is looking to win wholesale mandates in the future.
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