As a consolidator of financial services businesses, to date Embark has focused on the self-invested personal pension (Sipp), small self-administered scheme (Ssas), white-label pension administration and fund platform services, with its suite of underlying brands including Hornbuckle, Rowanmoor and Avalon.
Phil Smith, chief executive of the Embark Group said The Adviser Centre added deep investment expertise and fund research capability to Embark’s offering, as Peter Toogood, investment director and his team move across.
Gill Hutchison, head of investment research, Mark Pearson, who is marketing director, and senior investment analyst Marianne Weller will all join in the move, cementing the firm’s London presence.
Smith said: “As the regulatory requirement increasingly calls for deep investment expertise, this is something we had been looking at for some time.”
Now a more holistic offering, Embark offers investment and pension administration, investment research, actuarial consultancy, specialist financial planning, employee benefits and investment wrap services.
Smith added: “With a deeper investment knowledge, understanding of what is flowing through the books we now have the ability to provide more bespoke services and expand our offering according to what our clients need.”
He said this might include covering non-traditional assets such as Ucits funds, as well as assessing DFM suitability constructs.
Toogood said while City Financial’s focus was moving away from long-only funds towards hedge fund-type strategies, while mindful of the high levels of consolidation expected in the DFM and platform worlds, he felt the time was right to offer a full-service proposition.
“Things have got harder for a small, long-only boutique unless you have the top fund in your space,” he said.
“While we can offer ratings and research, the advisers want more. We needed to look at building a more holistic service so we can look at the whole piece – cash flow, technical support, drawdown, technology. It is a very logical move for us, especially when you look at how much consolidation is expected in the DFM and platform space. This is a good case to go and grow.”
He said the governance and reporting piece was something they looked forward to developing as well as providing “default DFM”, giving advisers robust, compliant assistance to help service their lower value clients.
“They don’t have to follow but while they are focused on dealing with the £250,000 to £1m clients, they just don’t have time to properly service the lower level clients.”