Expat Wealth talked to Aidan Bailey of the Fry Group about their recent acquisition of Fulcra. He explained how they have established themselves as a leading financial consulting firm, about their current clients and their plans for the future.
Aidan, why the acquisition of Fulcra?
The Benelux region is a very important market to us. We focus mainly on Europe and Asia – in Europe we are split between the working and retirement markets. However, in the Benelux region we were in and out. We had a satellite office there a few years ago but, to put it nicely, we couldn’t compete with Fulcra. They were very established and it is hard to just turn up in a market and compete – longevity inspires trust in the market. We wanted a fixed presence there so we talked with Fulcra, our business models are very similar – it was a friendly takeover.
How did the Fry Group establish themselves as such a respected financial planning firm?
We have built up trust within our market. The Fry Group was established in 1898, we have been around for a long time – that sends out an important message. We aren’t aggressive or flash and we offer conservative tax advice. Around 60-70% of our clients come to us through word of mouth and referrals. Our individual offices around the world run targeted, local advertising projects rather than national PR campaigns.
How would you say the current economic conditions have affected your clients?
Location and level of income have both played a part. Our Asian clients are still buoyant – you wouldn’t necessarily know there was a global financial problem.
However, in Europe, income is harder to come by. Buying a pension is unattractive, leaving your money in the bank isn’t optimal, seeing as interest rates in most major economies are 0%. There is less job security and more uncertainty. However, you still need executives to run companies. Among middle management, roles are more mobile so we have seen middle managers relocating more frequently.
Have you seen any significant changes over the years, especially in the expat market?
The type of expat has changed. Before it used to be a Brit posted overseas on a hardship posting who couldn’t wait to get home. Now expats are getting younger and much more mobile. It’s also become easier to find work once you are abroad.
We see career expats who, nearing retirement, want to move back to the UK. A lot of British expats still view the UK as “home”. As it turns out some people split their time between 2 or 3 places. Have a holiday home in Spain or France but have a base in the UK.
A lot of people don’t want to move back, they prefer to stay overseas with lower taxes and warmer climates, and who can blame them?
What does the future hold for the Fry Group? Any more acquisitions or changes?
No not at the moment. With the RDR legislation changes in the UK we might be looking at small UK acquisitions in the future. Nothing on the international scale as we are well balanced globally.
Aidan Bailey is Associate Director of The Fry Group, responsible for all international activities. Aidan managed The Fry Group’s Singapore office from 2001 to 2011,
managing client assets totalling GBP75 million. Aidan joined The Fry Group in 1994 and has an honours degree in Financial Services. He passed the UK Financial
Planning Certificate in 1994 and the Investment Representatives exam on moving to Singapore.