April 15, 2024

With Count’s acquisition of Diverger set to reach formal completion on 1 March, the firm will overtake Insignia Financial as the second-largest financial advice licensee in Australia.

Last week, the proposed merger between Count and Diverger received court approval to proceed on 1 March.

Count chief executive, Hugh Humphrey, said: “The completion of this milestone confirms our previously announced strategic growth ambitions through the acquisition of Diverger. This is an important moment in our 44-year history which will transform Count into a larger, more diversified business.”

It had been expected that the deal would create the third-largest licensee but the exit of Godfrey Pembroke from Insignia means Count-Diverger will now be the second largest.

According to Wealth Data, the number of financial advisers of the combined group was initially stated at the time of the merger announcement as being over 550 but numbers have since risen to 590 as of 31 December.

However, this did not include advisers who are restricted to self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs).

The research house revealed that as of 22 February, Count has a total of 729 advisers across all categories, including 575 who are considered ‘holistic’.

Meanwhile, Insignia announced their financial results for the first half of the 2024 financial year on 22 February – reporting a net profit after tax (NPAT) loss of $49 million.

In particular, the firm revealed that it would return ownership of Godfrey Pembroke to advisers under an existing arrangement from when Insignia acquired the business – meaning the practice is no longer under Insignia’s licensee.

The loss of Godfrey Pembroke’s 52 advisers would see Insignia’s numbers fall to 727, just two below Count’s 729 advisers.

“On the assumption that the above will proceed in the coming weeks, in total numbers, Count will leapfrog Insignia to be the second-largest group of advisers at 729, 142 behind AMP Group who have 871 and 2 advisers ahead of Insignia at 727,” explained Colin Williams, founder of Wealth Data.

“The next few weeks are expected to be volatile as Count formally swallows up Diverger and Godfrey Pembroke exits Insignia.”

Following the expected completion of the Count/Diverger merger, the top three licensees by number of advisers could look like:

Firm Adviser numbers
1. AMP 871
2. Count 729
3. Insignia 727

Source: Wealth Data

Weekly movement

In the week ending 22 February, there was a net loss of 10 advisers, Wealth Data reported. The current number of advisers stands at 15,634.

Some 81 advisers were active with appointments or resignations while six new entrants joined the industry. Two new licensees commenced operations and four ceased.

Looking at weekly growth, 26 licensee owners had net gains of 28 advisers. Centrepoint was up by two advisers and is up by 14 this year-to-date. According to Wealth Data, this makes them the growth leaders this YTD.

A new licensee commenced with two advisers and a tail of 24 licensees grew by one adviser each. This included WT Financial Group, Perpetual, Industry Super Holdings and Bannister Consulting.

In terms of losses, 35 licensee owners had net losses of 38 advisers.

AAN Wealth Management, Akela Ventures and Alteris Financial Group all lost two advisers each. Meanwhile, 32 licensee owners decreased by one each, such as Insignia, Diverger and Morgans Group.

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