Jane Watts: heads BT advice and private wealth

About 60 junior salaried financial advisers within BT Financial Group’s so-called “Advanced” advice business will either be made redundant or offered roles within the group’s “partnership” business, it is understood.

The Westpac-owned group is in a consultation period with advisers regarding the positions, a process that will take place over the next two weeks, Professional Planner understands. This follows an internal announcement this week regarding the repositioning.

The BT Advanced financial planning business was a quasi-incubator for financial planners at early stages of their careers, one person not within the group who preferred not to be named, said.

Some Advanced advisers won’t have a place in the group going forward, while others will be offered roles within the BT Financial Adviser (BTFA) “partnership” network, it is understood.

BTFA’s partnership network is a model in which salaried advisers are employed within small groups under a partnership structure. There are about 40 BTFA partners who have up to four salaried advisers each reporting to them under this model, it is understood.

Michael Wright, BT’s head of financial advice, oversees the group’s salaried financial planning business, which includes the partnership model and the now-former Advanced network.

Wright appeared before the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry in April to give evidence relating to complications with unwinding conflicted remuneration. BT subsequently announced it would remove grandfathered commissions paid to salaried advisers at the request of its clients.

Wright was not available to comment on the changes. BT made the following official statement regarding the re-organisation:

“BT Financial Advice has announced some proposed changes that will result in a number of changes to the structure of our salaried advice business, including strengthening our successful Partnership model and realigning some teams to where our clients need them most.”

BT’s salaried financial advice network comprises close to 490 financial advisers, which includes BTFA and Westpac salaried advisers, according to Professional Planner’s 2018 Licensee survey.

The group’s salaried network sits beside its aligned dealer groups, which include Securitor (303 advisers) and Magnitude Group (177 advisers), according to PP’s survey, which was up to date at the end of March this year.

The BTFG salaried and aligned advice business was brought under the portfolio of Jane Watts, BT advice and private wealth general manager, at the end of last year; the move added Westpac Private Bank, St George Private and Bank of Melbourne Private to Watts’ purview.

Westpac has not revealed any plans relating to the future of its salaried and aligned advice network, making it the last of the big four to do so. ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank have all made commitments to shrink their wealth management footprints, in each case holding onto private banking and smaller salaried advice networks.

Banks’ advice strategies in play

The banks’ advice and wealth management strategies have been thrown up into the air while the Hayne royal commission hearings continue to highlight conflicts within institutionally owned advice network models.

BT declined to comment on plans for its Securitor and Magnitude Group networks or its future commitment to wealth management. Overall, BT/Westpac has 969 financial advisers within its salaried and aligned dealer groups, down slightly from 1120 advisers within the network 12 months ago, PP data shows.

ANZ offloaded its OnePath and aligned financial advice groups – including Millennium 3 Financial Services, RI Advice, Financial Services Partners and Elders Financial Planning – to IOOF towards the end of last year. IOOF is working towards transitioning the potentially higher-risk ANZ planners into its existing network, which includes the Consultium, Shadforth, Bridges, Lonsdale and Ord Minnett dealer-group brands.

Commonwealth Bank announced in April this year it would spin off its wealth and investment management businesses. NAB announced it would spin off its wealth business, MLC, but keep some salaried advisers and its private client business, JB Were. The future of NAB’s aligned dealer-group brands remains in flux.

BTFG’s plans are evolving in parallel with the group’s strategy to build its relationships in the broader independent financial adviser market, an approach led by Phil Butterworth, general manager of BT Group’s licensee strategy.

In July, BT announced a new fee structure on the Panorama platform, which staked its claim as the leading technology platform advisers use to access investment products. BT continues to build its partnerships with advice businesses and licensees with its BT Select and BT Open strategies.

Smith is the editor of Professional Planner’s print and digital platforms. He is an experienced financial journalist, editor and multimedia producer who has held senior editorial positions both in mainstream press and trade media.
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