Don Trapnell (left) and Keith Cullen

WT Financial Group, owner of licensee group Wealth Today, is confident risk advice will continue to play an important role in the industry after it acquired Synchron Tuesday to create the largest non-institutionally-owned financial adviser network in Australia.

In an announcement to the ASX, WTL said the purchase will cost $7.96 million including approximately $3 million in liabilities from Synchron.

WTL managing director Keith Cullen tells Professional Planner he is willing to back risk advice as a continuing profitable model, despite potential regulatory challenges stemming from the upcoming the Life Insurance Framework review (part of the Quality of Advice Review) and the removal of Chapter 7 from the Corporations Act.

“People managing their risk appropriately is a critical part of anyone’s financial plan – some would argue it’s the most critical aspect. We see continued growth in that market and people need professional advice around it because otherwise they’re left at the behest of buying online or from telemarketers.”

In terms of the remuneration structure in the industry, Cullen believes commissions are a “perfectly legitimate way for advisers to be rewarded”.

“I might be considered a pariah in the industry for feeling that way, but I’ve got no problem with it.”

Money in hand

With transaction and integration costs estimated to be $1 million to $2 million, the expected value of the completed acquisition could be up to $13 million.

There will be an initial payment of $3.47 million comprised of roughly $2.5 million in cash and $1 million in shares, along with a deferred settlement component which is dependent on the value of the business.

“Regardless of anything, we need to give them another $1 million in cash in 12 months,” Cullen says. “But also at that 12-month mark we will have a look at what the retentions look like in terms of revenue and adviser numbers.”

“Assuming all the benchmarks are met – and we have no reason to believe they won’t be – then we owe them another $2.5 million.”

Whammo

The WTL adviser network will have over 600 advisers and increase funds under advice to $16 billion. This includes the roughly 150 advisers it added as part of the acquisition of Sentry Group last year.

Compliance committees, risk management frameworks, adviser education and training, consumer market tools, approved product lists and professional indemnity insurance will be shared across the businesses.