The forthcoming acquisition of The Fry Group by Progeny will, of course, be a milestone event in our long history. David Pugh, our CEO, shares his thoughts on taking the important decision to embark on the sale, and what the future holds.
Deciding to sell a business is really tough, especially when you’re under no real pressure to do so. It’s an even tougher decision when it’s a business with a strong history going back well over a hundred years, and when both the team around us and the clients we support are very happy with the status quo. All things considered it’s certainly a decision we’ve considered from every possible angle.
But the greatest influence for us as a management team was simply this: that while our status as a relatively small and independent business has served us well over our first 125 years, the result of a combination of changes affecting our industry in the last few years means the best decision for our future would be to join forces with another firm that sees the world the same way as us.
One of the most important shifts involves considerable advances in technology, and the cost associated with maintaining a programme of continuous investment, to ensure that both our clients and our team have the benefits of the latest kit.
Another involves the ever-increasing cost and complexity of regulation, especially for a global financial services firm. We need to make sure we have the resources not just to follow the letter and spirit of the rules, but to deliver over and above guidelines, to manage risk vigorously on behalf of and to protect our clients and team. This is critically important to us.
A third – perhaps driven to a degree by the first two – is the rapid pace of consolidation in our industry, with a number of bigger, better-resourced groups bringing small firms into their entities and competing fiercely for the best talent and clients.
And finally, particularly relevant to us, there’s the huge opportunity to expand and build on the “multi-service” concept that has been a big part of our achievements in recent years. We understand that for many of our clients it’s vital that we bring together a range of professional advisers under one roof and within a single relationship. We can go much further along that road – but, again, it takes greater resources to do so.
A question of compatibility
None of these considerations would count for very much if we hadn’t been able to identify the right company to discuss our plans with. It was essential to seek out a firm that would be compatible with ours at every level, from culture and values through to business model and service offering. We found just such a candidate in Progeny – visit their website and you’ll immediately recognise echoes of many of the points we make at The Fry Group.
Progeny share our emphasis on multi-service (and the acquisition will allow us to offer clients a broader range, including legal and HR services) and seamless, integrated, personal advice. That combination supports the purpose we’ve put at the heart of our work – to help clients achieve financial freedom. And Progeny’s approach to values echoes with ours too – expressed powerfully in their aim to make “a positive and lasting difference, challenging the status quo for clients, colleagues and the world we live in together.”
Given my own feelings on the subject, our collective focus as a business through our One Team approach and focus on Corporate Social Responsibility, we identify particularly strongly with the Progeny team on “Empowering Others” and “Creating opportunities for clients, colleagues and communities; investing in people and building positive relationships; and nurturing talent and professionalism.” My sentiments exactly.
The next steps
Recently many of our team have spent time meeting and talking to their new counterparts at Progeny, and it’s been an enjoyable experience all round. It’s always refreshing to find people who see the world in the same way you do – especially when those people have exciting and ambitious ideas about how that philosophy can be developed further.
But we appreciate it’s early days and are aware that a key challenge is to bring everyone connected to The Fry Group on this journey with us. We enjoy an enviable reputation and long heritage, and there’s a huge sense of responsibility to protect that, whilst evolving our service to match our clients’ needs – just as we did when establishing our financial planning team in the 1950s and estates services in the 1970s.
We’re committed to providing reasons to share our enthusiasm for this step-change, and demonstrating how this larger, better-resourced business can provide benefits that make a real and positive difference. Ultimately our goal is to unlock those advantages of size and scale which Progeny offer, and combine them with the benefits of a smaller firm with a family feel and real personal service. The result should mean we can offer something really exceptional.
So that’s my focus for the coming weeks and months and hopefully a good summary of the role I need to play in this business going forward. It’s a role I’m genuinely excited about, as we get started on our second 125 years.