Westpac’s BT has continued its steady retreat from wealth management, this week telling 1300 members of its self-licensed adviser support group, the BT Practice Principals’ Community, that the service would be shut down as of December 10 this year.
In a letter sent to advisers operating under the 130 AFSLs that make up the community, BT Financial Group said it will no longer provide the service-only offering to self-licensed advisers.
“This will allow BT to focus on our core platforms capability, technical and support through Bryan Ashenden’s team and a series of masterclasses planned throughout the year,” BT told members.
The group is set to continue under a different banner as Kon Costas, the head of the Practice Principals Community since 2015, intends to to establish a standalone business named ‘The Principals’ Community’ that will offer services and programs to self-licensed practices.
Speaking to Professional Planner Costas, a former executive at dealer group Lonsdale, confirmed the new venture would start immediately after his tenure finishes at BT next Monday.
“It’s certainly a new opportunity in establishing the business model,” the industry veteran said. “Certainly, we’ve had an amazing journey with BT in building the community and I’m really excited about the journey ahead.”
For Westpac, the move continues its multi-year extrication from the sector.
In September 2018 BT pulled the pin on entry-level advice, with about 60 junior salaried advisers either being made redundant or offered alternative roles.
In March 2019 it became the final bank in the big four to exit aligned dealer group financial advice when its BT Group licensees Securitor and Magnitude were either assisted in moving to self-licensing arrangements or other licensees.
A deal was struck with boutique outfit Viridian with an offer for 175 BT Financial Advice staff including 90 financial advisers to move to the Melbourne-based group.
At the time, then-CEO of Westpac Brian Hartzer said the decision to exit the provision of personal advice “has not been taken lightly”. Viridian chief exectuive Glenn Calder subsequently revealed the split had been in train “eight or nine months” before the final announcement.
While BT is now moving away from the services-only offering, the model figures to play heavily in advice as more advisers move away from institutional dealer groups and into smaller self-licensed outfits.
In August, for example, mid-tier licensee Centrepoint Alliance shelled out $15.2 million dollars worth of equity for competitor Clearview’s advice network, which not only included its Matrix Planning Solutions and Clearview Financial Advice groups but also Clearview’s La Vista service only model.
The deal meant 480 self-licensed advisers using La Vista would be added to the 320 already on Centrepoint’s existing service-only model, Centrepoint CEO John Shuttleworth said.
Shuttleworth is well known for his role in helping build BT Financial Group’s superannuation and platform businesses over the last decade.
In September former Allianz Retire+ chief executive Matt Rady was named the new head of BT Financial Group’s remaining combined businesses, including BT Panorama, BT’s personal and corporate super and Investments.