James Hay parent downplays vertical integration concerns

Social-Networking-Technology-Organisation-Chart-700x450.jpgIFG Group has said it is not concerned about its ownership of both platform James Hay and advice business Saunderson House as the regulator prepares to take a look at vertical integration in the advice market.

IFG announced its half-year results yesterday, showing increases in client acquisitions for both James Hay and Saunderson House.

While the FCA expressed concerns over how increased vertical integration between advice, fund management and platforms impacts on competition and value for money in its recent asset management market study, IFG chief executive John Cotter tells Fund Strategy’s sister title Money Marketing that IFG has worked hard to keep its businesses siloed.

Coetter says: “We have always been very very clear these are two very separate businesses run independently. They had a long standing relationship which predates our ownership of both.

“It’s important to be seen not to be favouring James Hay over other platforms, or James Hay favouring Saunderson House over other IFAs.”

James Hay reported a 50 per cent increase in new Sipps over the period, with 3,075 opened in the six months to the end of June.

James Hay chief executive Alastair Conway attributes this mainly to a buoyant Sipp market, but also suggests that the platform is starting to see larger case sizes as a result of a fee cut for large accounts it introduced in March.

Conway says: “The market generally has been good in the first six months of this year. We are happy the tide is coming is as much as anyone else, and pleased our case size has slightly increased.”

Saunderson House is looking to continue is strategy of training “home-grown” advisers, the businesses’ managing director Tony Overy says, by recruiting more graduates onto its training programme.

The firm reported an 8 per cent increase in client numbers, taking its total over the 2,000 mark.