Rathbones eyes financial planning expansion as it nears £40bn FUM

Rathbone Brothers is planning to develop its financial planning proposition more aggressively this year after nearing its target of £40bn funds under management.

Rathbones eyes financial planning expansion as it nears £40bn FUM

The expansion will see the FTSE 250 investment manager staffing more financial planners across its regional offices and will add an estimated £1.5m in net costs to the company.

The news comes as the firm looks to “refresh” its strategy after growing total FUM by 14.3% to £39.1bn over 2017, putting it within reach of its goal to have £40bn in FUM by the end of 2018.

Rathbones has increasingly looked to build its presence in the intermediary market in recent years , purchasing Vision Independent Financial Planning in October 2015 and strengthening its strategic partnerships. Last year, the Rathbones-owned financial planner accounted for £1.4bn in FUM, up 40% from £1.0bn in 2016.

After its merger discussion with Smith & Williamson fell through last year, the group said it would keep its options open for further M&A opportunities.

“In 2014 we set out a five-year strategy which had the ambition to reach £40bn of funds under management by the end of 2018,” said Philip Howell (pictured), the group’s chief executive. “Accepting that investment markets have been favourable, we are now well within sight of that goal with many of our strategic initiatives continuing to gain momentum. 

“Accordingly, over the next few months, the board and executive team will work to refresh our strategy to ensure our core business remains robust and that we can benefit from the changing landscape of our industry. I look forward to sharing the outcome of these discussions with our stakeholders at the appropriate time. We remain committed to ensuring that Rathbones remains well-positioned for the future.”

Elsewhere in its annual results, its unit trust business, overseen by chief executive officer Mike Webb, reached £5.3bn in FUM at 31 December 2017 as it took in £883m of net inflows.

Underlying operating income for its investment management operation rose 12.5% to £254.6m, while the unit trust division brought in 25.6% higher income of £31.4m.

Pre-tax profits rose from £50.1m to £58.9m over the period with basic earnings per share growing 17.5% to 92.7p.

The firm also hiked its final dividend by 3p to 39p year-on-year, bringing the total dividend to 61p for the year, an increase of 7% on 2016.

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