Rowan Dartington selling Ardan Int'l platform to RL360°

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Rowan Dartington has agreed to sell its Isle of Man-based international platform business, Ardan International, to the RL360° Group, the companies revealed today.

The purchase price and other details of the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, weren’t given.

Rowan Dartington, a UK wealth manager and stockbroker, acquired Ardan International in 2014 but was itself acquired by St James’s Place Wealth Management last year. And earlier this year, it launched an international discretionary fund management business.  As a result, “we felt though  that if we wanted to have a discretionary offering that was going to be used [by financial advisers] around the world, that it was important for us to be ‘platform independent'”,  Trevor Cheal, managing director of investment services for Rowan Dartington, said in a telephone interview today.

Like RL360°, Ardan International is based in the Isle of Man, and licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority. It was, and remains, one of the few independent wealth platforms designed specifically to be used by financial advisers with expatriate clients, and features such international-client-friendly advantages as a multi-currency facility that offers eight major currencies and the option to add others, according to chief executive Richard Preston.

As part of the agreement, Rowan Dartington will continue to use Ardan for its international business expansion on an outsourced basis, according to a statement announcing the acquisition.

RL360° Group is the holding company that was created in October 2013 by a management buyout from the Royal London Group, which in turn had absorbed the Scottish Provident International Life Assurance and Scottish Life International brands in 2008. The MBO had been backed by Vitruvian Partners.

In 2015, it acquired what remained of the Clerical Medical International insurance business from Lloyds Banking Group. According to RL360° Group chief executive David Kneeshaw, (pictured), Ardan International will be a wholly-owned part of the group, separately run from the RL360° insurance business and its other businesses, with its own board of directors and operating system.

Explaining the purchase, Kneeshaw said: “Any offshore life insurance company that thinks that just flogging products in 10 years’ time is going to be enough, doesn’t understand how the industry is changing. You just have to look at the UK as an example of that.

“Platforms now are centre stage of the industry [in the UK], and when this happens internationally, we want to be a part of it.”

Kneeshaw said RL360° had been eyeing the platform market for the past two or three years, contemplating the best way to get involved in it, and as a result already has set up “a number of automated links in the UK” with such platforms as True Potential, Fusion Wealth, James Hay, Nucleus, Novia, “so, this is not new to us”. Talks with Rowan Dartington began about a year ago.

As for what RL360° “bring[s] to the party”, Kneeshaw cited “relationships; the fact that we really get and understand the international adviser market; and a strategic commitment, not just a strategic understanding, to being a part of providing  of wealth solutions, not just products, to international advisers”.

The acquisition is subject to the approval of the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority.

As reported,  Ardan International was named Best International Platform at International Investment’s 2016 International Fund & Product Awards in October.

Ardan means “platform” in the Manx language. Both Kneeshaw and Preston said the fact that the two companies happen to be based in the Isle of Man was a coincidence, apart from the IoM being a popular jurisdiction for internationally-focused financial services companies. Nevertheless, they admitted that it will make working together easier than if one of them had been located in the Channel Islands.

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