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Amplifi buys first financial planning business

Mint Asset Management’s holding company, Amplifi Group, has acquired its first financial planning business.

Monday, May 9th 2022, 7:48AM 4 Comments

It has acquired Nelson-based boutique firm Tōtara Wealth Management, which was founded  by Richard Harden and Meredith Cornelius in 2017.

Cornelius earlier sold her stake to Harden however she will continue to be involved with the firm.

The deal is the first in Amplifi’s quest to become New Zealand’s pre-eminent independent wealth management group of companies.

It says the deal allows Tōtara Wealth to access Amplifi’s deep resource base with increased research and compliance support, and will enable the addition of another qualified financial adviser to support Tōtara Wealth’s growth.

“A more corporate structure ensures longevity and a long-term succession plan,” the company says in a statement.
Tōtara’s investment strategies and advice will remain independent and the advisers will retain their clients.

“There is a strong fit in culture and philosophy between the brands,” Ohlsson says. “Amplifi backs the regionally and locally based operations and both businesses have the expertise and capability to deliver excellent outcomes for clients in a fully diversified manner.”

He says a key part of the Tōtara’s strategy is that all portfolios are tailored to individuals’ personal circumstances rather than one-size-fits-all.

Harden says Tōtara Wealth is free from commissions, quotas and ‘cookie cutter’ financial planning and investment advice.

“Last year we began talking about how we could grow Tōtara Wealth further and position it for the long term in a way that was aligned to our core values, bearing in mind that most of our clients will continue to need advice well beyond our working lives. Though we have no defined retirement timeframes, planning is in our DNA.” 

Cornelius says Amplifi shares “our vision for a network of financial planning and investment advisory businesses. It is gratifying that Tōtara Wealth was identified as the ‘first cab off the rank’ in Amplifi’s work to build such a network, given our company’s reputation as a pre-eminent firm providing independent financial advice.”

“Most importantly for our clients, the Amplifi investment is about longevity and securing the future of Tōtara Wealth while supporting the here and now. Tōtara Wealth will stay local and independent and our clients will receive the same service and experience, now with the backing of a larger national group of companies.”

The investment does not include a broker model. With independent advisers in Aotearoa New Zealand being an important but shrinking cohort, the investment is partly about protecting the space in this market for people to access bespoke advice that is tailored to their circumstances and objectives.

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Comments from our readers

On 9 May 2022 at 8:32 am Murray Weatherston said:
No doubt a good financial outcome.
But pray tell, how does the acquisiton of a business by a fund manager stack up with a claim of independence by the business?
Please don't insult me by suggesting the acquirer's motives are completely altruistic.
The name of the game for fund managers has always been to collect assets under management.
On 9 May 2022 at 9:54 am Pragmatic said:
A philosophical challenge: get the final cheque versus succession planning.

The former can be relatively quick, with stakeholder interests often in direct competition to the best outcome for the client (rf: Murray's comments above). Offshore observations demonstrate that vertical integration often attracts the attention of the Regulator, and is ultimately unwound as clients pursue independence (think of the demise of the Australian industry over the past decade).

The latter (succession planning) is time consuming (3-5 years), fraught with difficulties (compatibility), although tends to put the client's interests up there with the vendor. NZ has a special challenge at the moment, with the absence of younger acquirers who are financially able to purchase equity.
On 11 May 2022 at 1:16 pm MPT Heretic said:
Murray perhaps a smart fund manager recognises that advice is valuable and worth charging discreetly for, quite apart from the AUM $.

Potentially it is part of the value chain that they can retain in the rush to zero for fund fees.

There is undoubtable plenty of demand and a great need for high quality advice - there is also plenty of people who are happy to pay for it - sounds like a good business to be in.
On 11 May 2022 at 2:23 pm Murray Weatherston said:
Is that you MJC?
I don't disagree with your sentiment from the perspective of the purchaser.

But my question reworded was - how does an advice firm assert "independence" with a straight face when they now share parentage with a fund manager (whose products may or may not be incuded in the adviser's portfolio)?

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