Assureweb changes ownership structure

The deal will involve a share buy back by Assureweb, leaving AEGON UK, Clerical Medical, Friends Provident, Norwich Union and Scottish Widows owning 100 per cent of the business. The move is intended to create an online portal owned by the financial services industry, working for the financial services industry.

Assureweb’s Managing Director Nigel Hopwood said: “The new ownership structure of Assureweb demonstrates a real commitment from our key product providers to driving the business forward. It also reflects the growing importance of the proposition in the minds of the leading product providers within the sector and will allow us to continue our solid growth under the direction of the existing management team.

“The solid infrastructure and governance that Sesame (a wholly owned subsidiary of Misys plc) put in place has been instrumental in developing the business to this point but we believe that it is now appropriate that Assureweb should be owned entirely by the provider community rather than a single distributor. With Sesame also continuing to support the Assureweb proposition through its ongoing commitment to our business model, we believe the deal works for all parties.

“From a user perspective there will be very little visible difference in the short-term but the change in ownership structure will accelerate the development of Assureweb’s product coverage. We are excited about where we could take this business in the next three to five years, particularly around providing bespoke panels in a depolarised world in addition to our core whole of market offering.

“The move should also ensure greater accessibility to the Assureweb proposition. The portal market is not unlike the electricity and telephone sectors; players within the portal market essentially offer advisers a very similar core service or utility to assist in the aggregation and comparison of financial products. But clearly there are key points of differentiation to ensure competing players appeal to the different needs of existing and potential users. Over time, our wider ambition is to see Assureweb as a substantial utility for the financial adviser community.”

The outgoing Assureweb Chairman Charles Bryant, who will remain Commercial Director of Sesame commented: “This deal is right for Assureweb. Collectively, we are very proud of what we have achieved with the business and look forward to continuing our close association with the portal. It became apparent however, that for the business to really progress, the ownership structure needed to change. For Assureweb to achieve effective industry penetration, the onus should be on the product providers to decide how they want it to work most effectively for intermediaries - a process that as the largest support provider to financial advisers we will naturally support.

“We see no reason why this deal will not move Assureweb closer to becoming the accepted link between intermediaries and providers. For the 8,000 financial advisers that Sesame supports, Assureweb will very much remain our portal of choice.“