Peter Mann dislikes the term consolidator, but his company Harwood Wealth Management can only be called that after completing 57 acquisitions in 16 years.
The company, where Mann (pictured) is non-executive chair, near doubled its assets under influence over the 12 months to 30 April, from £1.7 billion to £3.3 billion. During this time, it has made a number of other acquisitions including the purchase of adviser network, Network Direct.
The £4 million Network Direct deal took assets under management to £819 million, a 41% rise, and headcount to 112 from 90. The adviser network added around £1 billion to the company, which was founded in 2001, originally as Compass Wealth Management.
‘We have now acquired since the opening of the business 57 firms – and in this quarter we have acquired four more,’ said Mann.
He added that while Harwood’s business model is quite simple, it is a difficult one to successfully execute. This he sees as an advantage, as it means not many will go down the same route.
‘The idea is that at some point in time advisory firms – of which there are eight thousand plus in the UK – will reach a point where the owner or managers want to realise the value of the assets,’ he said.
Mann believes this happens for a number of reasons, most notably regulatory pressure and the increasing cost of compliance.
He added that talk about Harwood paying more for its acquisitions is not actually true.
‘Everybody thinks our success is because we pay more. We simply do not pay more. We have a relatively formulaic approach to how we buy businesses that is not out of kilter
with the market.’
However, he pointed out that as the company buys more firms, awareness of its brand also increases, which means companies are more likely to come to Harwood. Mann said this happens especially in the south where the business has its roots and an established presence.
‘It is hard to imagine a firm in the region wanting to realise their assets not coming to us – I’m not saying they will come to us exclusively, but what we are beginning to get is a reputation of treating people fairly, treating customers fairly once they become part of our business.’
Leaving 57 deals behind, Harwood is set to continue its buying spree since it announced a £10.4 million fund raising in April, noting at the time that it had already signed head of terms in respect to six acquisitions.