Investment research firm, van Eyk, says it has been encouraged by the response from independent advisers to its retail financial planning arm, van Eyk Advice.

While van Eyk chief executive, Mark Thomas, is cagey about providing exact numbers, he told Professional Planner Online that “less than half a dozen” planners had signed up with ongoing talks involving another 20.

These are generally small independent advice groups with one or two principals and practitioners, although Thomas says negotiations are on a case-by-case basis.

“There is an element of panic in the market and we are seen as a safe haven,” says Thomas, adding that industry consolidation has emphasised to advisers the value of a research-driven advice group not tied to a big institution.

Size matters and The Encore Group

Van Eyk has been sounding out the financial planning community about the prospect of van Eyk Advice for some time – a process that gained momentum with the accusation of The Encore Group in December last year.

Thomas (right) said he was encouraged with the response from planners and van Eyk Advice would step up its efforts to attract and engage with more advisers.

“Van Eyk Advice can fill a gap in the marketplace for a non-aligned advice group that develops and follows through on its own ideas,” he said. “It will be an attractive proposition to like-minded planners who are not comfortable being part of a large conglomerate.”

While the expansion into licensee territory was initially driven by the Future of Financial Advice reforms, Thomas says the most common reasons cited by advisers for being unhappy with their current dealer group were a lack of investment expertise, poor communication and a lack of practice management and support.

Van Eyk Advice currently has a small number of authorised representatives within a dealer-group structure under an AFS license obtained in May.

For Thomas, the expansion was a “natural evolution” for the van Eyk brand.

“Van Eyk Advice offers financial advisers the opportunity to work with a respected brand, which is committed to pursuing its own path and has a history of putting investors first,” he said.

Van Eyk Advice also offers advisers professional development and practice-management expertise through wholly owned subsidiary, The Encore Group.

Thomas was also keen to stress that the development of van Eyk Advice would have no impact on van Eyk’s existing clients and services.