Matt Rady

BT will remain fully owned by Westpac, with the big-four bank electing to retain the asset that has been streamlined since it was first put on the market.

In announcement to the ASX on Wednesday morning, Westpac said it will continue to invest in the BT business, including in developing features to improve the adviser and investor experience, as well as the ongoing simplification and improved efficiency of BT’s operations.

BT chief executive Matt Rady tells Professional Planner the backing of a major bank provides certainty to clients and staff, particularly the benefit of having “bank-grade” information security.

“The opportunity in Westpac is really strong because we have a committed parent that we can leverage where we think there’s opportunity to do so,” Rady says.

“I’m excited by it, the opportunity that has been created by Westpac here is to run this business with a single line of accountability and make sure the strategy we have is right for BT. It removes a lot of the uncertainty and enables us to just get on with things quicker than would otherwise be the case.”

Rady says BT is in a unique position as the only platform 100 per cent and owned by one of the big four banks.

“In this environment, big is beautiful,” Rady says. “If you’re a platform backed by a major bank or supported by a major bank then hopefully that gives our members and investors confidence this a good place to be.”

Drawn out process

Westpac previously outlined its intention to sell the business by the end of last September, ideally avoiding a sale to a competitor or a firm that didn’t have the supporting infrastructure in place like a major bank does.

On Tuesday at the Professional Planner Licensee Summit, Rady said the sale process had dragged on too long and had been a distraction internally.

“What I have been able to say is that we’re not going to be sold to a competitor and that’s really clear,” Rady said at the Summit. “That leaves us with two options: private equity or being retained by the bank.”

As of the end of the March quarter, BT held $131 billion in funds under administration with 350,000 investor accounts, and maintained relationships with half of the nation’s registered financial advisers.

Rady says the business strategy is to remain a neutral player in the advice market, focusing on delivering the platform service. This echoed his previous comments that the business strategy is to be an enabler, not provider, of advice.

“Our strategy is to enable quality financial advice to thrive. That’s not changing. The values that underpin this business are not changing. It just means we can get on with it,” Rady says.

“We’re really focused on the leverage we have in the market. It’s a great opportunity to maintain our leading position in managed accounts.”

Whole new world

BT moved to streamline its business strategy to focus on the platform service, offloading many of its other businesses over the past few years.

Rady joined BT in October 2021 after a three-and-a-half-year stint at Allianz Retire+. However, it was his experience at Macquarie, during a period when Macquarie Wrap was developed, that led to his appointment.

“The BT of today is a very different BT of what it was in February,” Rady says.

“BT has been many things over the course of the last five years. It’s been in life insurance, in the business of advice, margin lending, self-managed super, online broking, and personal and corporate super.”

Rady notes the “transformational change” after the personal and corporate super business, and Advance Asset Management were sold to Mercer.

“[It] means that today BT is a platforms business, and that business is helping quality financial advice to thrive,” Rady says.

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