Manoj Pillai (left), Allan Maitland and Paul Kelly

Succession planning and the role of technology remain two of the most pressing issues in financial advice. The acquisition of the Futuro and Insight Investment Services licensees by Perth-based fintech PictureWealth seeks to address both of those issues in one fell swoop.

Picture Wealth’s acquisition of Futuro and Insight for an undisclosed sum, announced this week, gives PictureWealth a national advice footprint and creates a succession plan for Futuro’s co-founder Dennis Bashford.

Futuro and Insight directors Paul Kelly and Manoj Pillai have moved to PictureWealth, which was co-founded by David Pettit, Marko Sekez and Neal Cross, and is led by directors Pettit, Sekez and Allan Maitland. Cross remains a shareholder but has no operational role in the business.

PictureWealth has about 10 employed financial advisers, and the addition of Insight and Futuro will lift the number to 113 nationally. The PictureWealth group will have about $5 billion of funds under advice – up from zero five years ago.

The move comes as the future of licensee business structures comes under scrutiny, with licensees increasingly find themselves under financial pressure and questions being asked about sustainability and viability of current models. This will be a central theme explored at the Professional Planner Licensee Summit on 19-20 June.

Kelly says the transaction will allow the licensees to deliver technology-based solutions and services to help advisers improve the performance of their businesses, including through better collection, management and analysis of client data.

“From the planners’ point of view the same people are still running it,” Kelly tells Professional Planner.

“Yes, there’s some new ownership in there, but they’re bringing a lot to the table. For all, it should be a much more enhanced offering for the advisers and they can benefit from that quite enormously.”

Pillai says the cleanest way to create an effective succession plan for Bashford and position Futuro and Insight was to extract those AFSLs from Highfield Group, which also owns the Sterling Investment Services managed accounts business.

“A long the journey, what we wanted to maintain was the integrity of our network as it is, the continuity of what we’re doing, and also find the partner was going to support that all the way through,” he says.

“We need to take something different to the marketplace whilst doing this, and I think we now we have that competitive edge with what David and Allan have been working towards.”

Future proofing

PictureWealth’s Pettit says a new generation of licensee leadership is moving the industry much more towards a focus on technology to improve business processes and client relationships.

“We believe in advice, we believe in the future of advice, we think there’s a new leadership coming through,” Pettit says.