We spent over 12 months in intensive due diligence talks, visited their offices and people in the United States, and carried out extensive workshops with members of their worldwide staff to arrive at a market entry proposition.

Some of the core elements were to take a robust share dealing platform and to turn it into a fully-fledged B2B wrap proposition during the very early days of wraps and supermarkets in the UK financial services marketplace. This was to be a cornerstone of the proposition and enable us to deliver best of breed pricing for the future fund solutions.
We created a unique and leading Adviser Club, which would meet the needs of the premium end of the UK IFA marketplace, and set a standard for high quality, regional advice delivered by a brand that the public would come to regard as a household name.
We had arranged funding from the group’s own Bank to provide acquisition finance for IFAs that wished to build regional centres of excellence and acquire other firms.
An intensive integration and training programme had been built and it was intended that successful firms, that had gone through this process, could use the group’s globally recognised brand on their own stationery, business cards, offices, etc. This would create accepted consumer awareness and recognition.
The group had a global client base from card and travel services, banking and financial services amongst others – it was anticipated that these would be a source of new customer referrals for the advisers within the consolidated IFA firms.
Part of our brief was to identify the key players in the UK back office software world; the wrap marketplace; specialist tools provider; and it was our intention to rapidly acquire a number of these businesses to accelerate and cement our position in UK financial services.
The strategy was to create the pre-eminent financial planning brand in the UK consolidating 500 of the best existing and new IFA firms all feeding off an industrial strength, central support services infrastructure.
Sadly, for us, the global company (a leading Wall Street firm) were advised by their corporate brokers/lawyers to divide the group up, putting their predominantly American financial services operations into a NewCo and retain Card/Travel etc under their existing brand. This left our UK financial services business belonging to a Card and Travel business, and we very cordially parted ways.
To this day, we believe that this group (whom I am sure you all now recognise as American Express) could have created the dominant brand in UK Financial Planning.