Growing pains. Barriers to scaling an IFA practice

Financial Advisory

13 October 2022

Cash flowcomplianceFinancial AdvisoryGrowthIndependent Financial AdviserRecruitmentWinning Advisers

Expert: John Chapman Facilitator: Duncan McKillop, Fidelius


  1. The challenges of growing an IFA practice are increasing, with greater regulation, challenges of recruitment as well as a lack of capital to invest in the required technological development to service staff in an increasingly competitive market
  2. The main barrier when it comes to growing an IFA business is the lack of capital required to invest in scaling the business models



IFA firms reach a “glass ceiling” which is difficult to break through without considerable additional investment.

There is power in a collective solution to IFA firms that have reached this ceiling, providing an aligned culture that enables the IFA firm to take value off the table today, an opportunity to de-risk, an easily managed central investment proposition and investment in the business to support recruitment and IT development needs.

Amongst the key challenges, the audience thought that recruiting the additional support staff required of a larger firm (Operations Manager and Finance Manager) was a stumbling block to growth – having never recruited for this position and having no experience of the type of skillset required – would create additional challenges. Also, investment in integrated IT solutions - data, back-office and platform could not be achieved without significant capital investment.

The timing of any investment is seen as crucial and the priority of investment adds to the challenge. What comes first – investment in marketing, IT development, recruitment of advisers or recruitment of support staff?


Key takeaways:

  • The investment in technology to provide an aligned solution for Advice, compliance services, central investment proposition, cashflow tools, platform and back office is a key challenge
  • Operational efficiency is the key to the “Winning Adviser” of the future but, very few firms have the capability or access to capital to develop what is required
  • The opportunities in the IFA market are many and varied, and firms that have growth aspirations - but have reached capacity in personnel and investment resource - should consider alternatives such as the collaborative approach which can provide the resources for growth, while retaining their current culture, people and values