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Akambo sets a course to the future of advice

First Financial merger about more than just bulking up

One of Australia’s fastest growing wealth management and financial advisory firms, Akambo Financial Group, this week announced a merger with Melbourne-based First Financial, effective immediately. The group will combine to manage more than $3 billion on behalf of a diverse range of clients.

It marks one of the most significant deals in the financial services sector for several years and may well offer an insight into the future of wealth management in this country. After what seems like years of uncertainty and a lack of any major corporate activity in the financial services sector due to the impending change in educational standards, this is a major step towards a ‘new normal’ in advice.   

After years of expanding regulation and the desertion of thousands of advisers from the industry, the deal looks to be the beginning of a new era where scale and breadth of advice expertise matters.

  • Many of the changes post the Royal Commission, including the lightning rod that has been the FASEA Code of Ethics, was focused on improving the accessibility and affordability of advice. Financial advisory firms were effectively given two options, get bigger to increase the efficiency and accessibility of their service offerings, not unlike the industry fund sector, or go niche and specialise in certain aspects of the market.

    With this deal, Akambo and First Financial are clearly becoming one of the more important players in the sector.

    With the combined group, which will operate under separate business lines but share back-office support along with an extensive suite of additional services, to the benefit of some 3,000 clients and over $3 billion in assets under management scale advantages will be key.

    Among the additional services that will be shared across the businesses are Akambo’s skilled investment team along with Lending and Legal Solutions, SMSF Admin, Paraplanning Support, Client Service Managers, Operations Unit and Compliance & Governance support.

    Commenting on the merger, Akambo Managing Director, Anthony Kapetanovic, says: “CEO of First Financial, Ben Rossi and myself saw a clear opportunity to excel as market leaders in the new post-Royal Commission environment, where licensing and advice is under increased challenges and pressure.”

    First Financial CEO, Ben Rossi added, “We are all trying to solve the same issues, as the landscape is quickly evolving, with the likes of technology playing a big role in how advisers are looking for and consuming information both locally and internationally.” 

    First and foremost, the merger is about the ability to offer better service to a diverse range of clients, but more importantly to be able to deliver advice to the hundreds of thousands of under-advised Australians that have in many cases left in the cold post the exit of the major banks and insurers from the industry. 

    Drew Meredith

    Drew is publisher of the Inside Network's mastheads and a principal adviser at Wattle Partners.

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