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Quilter plc interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2021

11 August 2021

UK Platform delivers significantly higher flows, supporting the outlook for faster growth and operational efficiency

Highlights (including Quilter International)

  • Net Client Cash Flow (“NCCF”) of £2.5 billion increased 127% on the prior period (H1 2020: £1.1 billion) representing 4% of opening Assets under Management and Administration (“AuMA”).
  • Adjusted profit before tax increased 20% to £85 million (H1 2020: £71 million) of which £29 million (H1 2020: £24 million) from Quilter International.
  • Operating margin of 24% (H1 2020: 21%) despite absorbing cost headwinds from higher regulatory costs and levies, and an unwind of prior year tactical cost savings.
  • IFRS profit after tax of £20 million (H1 2020: £43 million).
  • Adjusted diluted earnings per share of 5.0 pence, of which 1.7 pence is in respect of Quilter International (H1 2020: 3.5 pence, of which 1.3 pence was in respect of Quilter International).
  • Interim dividend per share of 1.7 pence versus 1.0 pence for H1 2020, inclusive of a contribution of 0.5 pence from Quilter International.
  • Total AuMA up 7% to £126.6 billion at 30 June 2021 (31 December 2020: £117.8 billion).
  • Regulatory approval granted for final £100 million share buyback of £375 million capital return programme with this expected to commence in early September 2021, shortly after completion of current tranche.

Continuing business (excluding Quilter International)

  • NCCF of £2.1 billion more than doubled on the prior period (H1 2020: £0.9 billion).
    • Strongly improved integrated net inflows of £2.0 billion (H1 2020: £1.3 billion).
    • Reshaping of Quilter Financial Planning delivering improved adviser productivity with £2.2 million integrated NCCF (annualised) per adviser (2020: £1.5 million).
  • Adjusted profit before tax increased 19% to £56 million (H1 2020: £47 million).
  • Improved operating margin of 18% (H1 2020: 17%) after higher FSCS levies (£10 million increase) and a reversal of tactical cost savings of £11 million in respect of variable compensation in 2021.
  • IFRS loss after tax from continuing operations of £13 million (H1 2020: profit of £11 million).
  • Adjusted diluted earnings per share from continuing operations increased 50% to 3.3 pence (H1 2020: 2.2 pence), supported by a reduced share count due to the capital return programme and a low effective tax rate.
  • AuMA up 8% to £104.8 billion at 30 June 2021 (31 December 2020: £97.4 billion).

Statutory results

  • IFRS loss before tax attributable to equity holders from continuing operations of £21 million (H1 2020: profit of £13 million) given the impact that rising equity markets have on policyholder tax accounting recognition.
  • Basic (loss)/earnings per share from continuing operations of (0.8) pence (H1 2020: 0.6 pence).
  • Diluted (loss)/earnings per share from continuing operations of (0.8) pence (H1 2020: 0.6 pence).
  • Solvency II ratio of 203% after payment of the recommended interim dividend (December 2020: 217%).

Strategic progress

  • Successful completion of asset, client and adviser migration onto the new UK platform technology in February 2021. Decommissioning of legacy systems underway.
  • Announced sale of Quilter International approved by shareholders in June 2021. Completion subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to occur during Q4 2021.
  • Capital Markets Day planned for 3 November 2021.

Paul Feeney, Chief Executive Officer, said: 

I am pleased with our Interim results which demonstrate strong growth in flows across our business, with a material improvement from our new platform following our final migration of clients and advisers in February. This improving momentum sets us up well to achieve our medium-term target of 6% net flows from 2022 onwards. With the sale of Quilter International, our results demonstrate good early progress on our more focused, UK-based strategic path and gives a taste of what we know our business can deliver in the future.

As well as making important progress on our strategic initiatives, we also delivered robust financial results, with further operating efficiency improvements from our Optimisation initiatives. We are ahead of where we planned to be at this stage and are on track to meet our operating margin targets of 25% in 2023 and 30% by 2025. With the platform at the core of our business, we are well placed to deliver faster growth and we look forward to updating the market on our plans at our Capital Markets Day on 3 November 2021.

Quilter highlights from continuing operations1

H1 2021

H1 2020

Assets and flows

 

 

AuMA (£bn)2

104.8

88.3

Gross sales (£bn)2

6.6

4.6

NCCF (£bn)2

2.1

0.9

NCCF/opening AuMA2

4%

2%

Integrated net inflows (£bn)2

2.0

1.3

Productivity (£m)2,3

2.2

1.5

Asset retention2

91%

92%

Profit & loss

 

 

IFRS (loss)/profit before tax attributable to equity holders from continuing operations (£m)2

(21)

13

IFRS (loss)/profit after tax from continuing operations (£m)

(13)

11

Adjusted profit before tax (£m)2

56

47

Operating margin2

18%

17%

Revenue margin (bps)2

48

51

Return on equity2

7.3%

4.5%

Adjusted diluted earnings per share from continuing operations (pence)2

3.3

2.2

Basic (loss)/earnings per share from continuing operations (pence)

(0.8)

0.6

Non-financial

 

 

Restricted Financial Planners (“RFPs”)4

1,701

1,808

Investment Managers (“IMs”)4

168

169

Quilter highlights from continuing operations including Quilter International

H1 2021

H1 2020

Assets and flows

 

 

AuMA (£bn)2

126.6

107.4

Gross sales (£bn)2

7.7

5.4

NCCF (£bn)2

2.5

1.1

NCCF/opening AuMA2

4%

2%

Integrated net inflows (£bn)2

1.9

1.4

Asset retention2

91%

92%

Profit & loss

 

 

IFRS profit after tax (£m)

20

43

Adjusted profit before tax (£m)2

85

71

Operating margin2

24%

21%

Revenue margin (bps)2

48

52

Adjusted diluted earnings per share (pence)2

5.0

3.5

Basic earnings per share (pence)

1.2

2.4

1Continuing operations represent Quilter plc, excluding the results of Quilter International. Adjusted profit before tax for Quilter International in H1 2021 was £29 million (H1 2020: £24 million). Adjusted diluted EPS for Quilter International in H1 2021 was 1.7 pence per share (H1 2020: 1.3 pence per share).

2Alternative Performance Measures (“APMs”) are detailed and defined on pages 4 to 7.

3Productivity is the measure of the value created by integrated net inflows (annualised) from our advice business per average Restricted Financial Planner.

4Closing headcount as at 30 June.

Adjusted profit presented in this announcement

Adjusted profit is presented in this announcement in a number of ways, to provide readers with a view of adjusted profit for the Group excluding Quilter International (on a continuing basis) and for the total Group (on a continuing and discontinued basis). A full reconciliation of these views is provided on page 16 and definitions of adjusted profit are explained on page 4.

IFRS accounting standards require £5 million of costs (H1 2020: £9 million), previously reported as part of Quilter International, to be disclosed within continuing operations, as these costs do not transfer to Utmost Group on completion. Adjusted profit before tax is presented both before and after the reallocation of these costs in this announcement. These costs are expected to be incurred in 2022 to provide services to Utmost Group under the Transitional Services Agreement, with corresponding income to cover these costs.

Alternative Performance Measures (“APMs”)

We assess our financial performance using a variety of measures including APMs, as explained further on pages 4 to 7. In the headings and tables presented from page 11 onwards, these measures are indicated with an asterisk: *.

Chief Executive Officer’s statement

Execution

After the broader challenges and market volatility of 2020, the first half of 2021 represented a welcome return to more normal market conditions with improving inflows and rising equity markets. Adapting to life with the pandemic continues to reshape the way we work, live, and go about our day-to-day activities. I am pleased to report that Quilter is fully open for business and continues to deliver for our clients, advisers, and wider stakeholders. We enjoyed a marked improvement in both gross and net flows while higher market levels were also accretive to total Assets under Management and Administration (“AuMA”).

Over the first half of 2021, we continued to make good strides in progressing our strategic agenda to simplify our business, focused as one-Quilter, built to serve our core customer groupings. The most notable achievements included the completion of the final migration of customers and advisers onto our new platform technology in February, and the agreed sale of Quilter International to Utmost Group in April which was overwhelmingly approved by shareholders in June. Completion of this transaction, once regulatory approvals are in place, is anticipated in the fourth quarter of this year.

We will hold a Capital Markets Day on 3 November 2021 to showcase our strategy focused on growth and efficiency, together with detail on the principal customer segments by which our business will be managed from the beginning of 2022.

Business performance

We delivered improved profitability in 2021 while absorbing the unwind of the tactical cost savings implemented in 2020 and higher FSCS levies. We have been repositioning our advice business to ensure a greater focus on productivity. In addition, we expect to continue our investment in simplifying end to end processes and strengthening controls within our advice business. This has led to a decline in the number of advisers with an associated impact on revenues. I am therefore pleased with the 20% increase in our adjusted profit before tax for the first half of 2021 to £85 million, against £71 million in 2020. On a continuing basis (excluding Quilter International), adjusted profit increased by 19% to £56 million. The remainder of my comments on the financial performance of the business will focus on the total Quilter business, including Quilter International, and the subsequent financial review will split out continuing business financial performance with separate sections on the discontinued operations.

Overall AuMA increased to £126.6 billion at the end of June 2021 from £117.8 billion at 31 December 2020, with average AuMA, the principal driver of net management fee revenue, for the period of £121.1 billion, comfortably ahead of £105.1 billion in the first half of 2020.

Total net fee revenue of £357 million increased by £22 million reflecting higher AuMA partially offset by a mix-related decline in revenue margins. The growth in operating expenses in the first half was contained to £8 million to give total operating expenses of £272 million (H1 2020: £264 million), lower than the combined unwind of tactical cost saves and incremental FSCS levies, demonstrating that our cost discipline has been maintained through continued focus on Optimisation initiatives.

Our operating margin improved to 24% (H1 2020: 21%). We expect further normalisation of the cost base in the second half of the year, particularly as we start to return to a more normal working environment, and we are making good progress towards our stated 2023 and 2025 operating margin targets.

IFRS profit after tax was £20 million, compared to a profit of £43 million in the first half 2020. The profit after tax in H1 2020 was impacted by a £50 million favourable timing difference arising on tax credits driven by market losses. Under IAS12, the tax credit for losses is required to be recognised immediately through the IFRS policyholder tax credit, whereas tax credits within the life company technical provisions are recognised when future policyholder gains arise. As markets recovered in H2 2020, resulting in policyholder gains, £44 million of this timing difference unwound, with a further £4 million unwind during H1 2021.

Adjusted diluted earnings per share of 5.0 pence compared with 3.5 pence in the first half of 2020, supported by an ongoing reduction in the share count and the benefit of a lower than usual tax charge arising from the change in corporate tax rates in the UK announced by the Chancellor in 2021. This has resulted in a net deferred tax credit being recognised in our earnings in the first half. This is expected to normalise in the second half and the charge is anticipated to revert to our previous tax charge guidance. On an IFRS basis, we delivered basic EPS of 1.2 pence versus 2.4 pence per share for the comparable period of 2020 on the same basis. Period-end shares have declined by c.10% or 181 million shares since the beginning of 2020, reflecting our ongoing £375 million share buyback programme which is expected to complete later this year.

In line with the broad one third: two thirds dividend policy communicated at the time of our Listing, the Board considers it appropriate to declare a 2021 interim dividend of 1.7 pence per share, with the pay-out ratio in the upper half of our 40% to 60% target range. This compares to a 2020 interim dividend of 1.0 pence per share which was positioned at a conservative level given the substantial uncertainties prevailing at that time.

Client flows

Supporting trusted, advice-based relationships through two distribution channels, our restricted financial advisers and open-market independent financial advisers is at the core of the Quilter business model. Our investment platform is central to our proposition, providing the tax efficient investment ‘wrappers’ and other functionality to meet both our client and their adviser needs, while linking advisers with our investment solutions and competitively priced third-party alternatives to deliver the outcomes sought by our clients. Confidence in our proposition is demonstrated through both the continued attraction to our solutions by financial advisers and increased integrated net inflows.

I am pleased with the early signs of stronger flows following the full migration of advisers and customers to our new platform in the first half of 2021. Gross client cash flows increased by 43% to £7.7 billion from £5.4 billion in the first half of 2020. We also experienced a substantial improvement in net flows. NCCF more than doubled to £2.5 billion versus £1.1 billion in the comparable period of 2020. This reflected broadly stable persistency in client assets across each of our businesses together with higher sales volumes. Within this, the overall level of Defined Benefit (“DB”) to Defined Contribution (“DC”) flows at £0.3 billion were lower than the comparable period of 2020 (£0.5 billion), with this continuing to be a modest proportion of our overall flows. Across the business, overall levels of client retention remained broadly stable at 91% versus 92% in 2020.

Following the completion of our platform migration in February, I was particularly pleased with the 50% increase in gross flows of £4.5 billion onto the Quilter Investment Platform in the period to end-June, coupled with the 80% increase in NCCF to £1.8 billion (£1.0 billion in 2020). This improvement reflects the broader capabilities and functionality of our new platform in supportive market conditions and provides a strong base from which we intend to accelerate flow momentum over the coming years.

Quilter Investors achieved broadly stable gross flows and improved net flows with better investment performance, notably in the Cirilium Active portfolios, delivering lower redemptions and an improvement in NCCF versus the prior period.

Quilter Cheviot delivered better retention levels and modestly higher gross sales which contributed to an improvement in net flows to £0.4 billion from £0.2 billion in the prior period. Across all our business capabilities, the remote working environment has posed the most significant challenges for Quilter Cheviot in terms of new client acquisition. We anticipate growth momentum will build as UK lockdown restrictions ease in the UK and other markets. We were delighted that the Quilter Cheviot Climate Assets fund reached its £200 million milestone in the period. Doubling its AuM in under 12 months, the sustainable fund’s momentum underlines Quilter’s ability to meet the specific wishes of clients who increasingly are seeking investments that generate more than just a financial return.

Quilter International delivered an improvement in NCCF with this supported by a particularly strong second quarter. Net flows of £0.4 billion were double that of the prior period.

Investment performance

Our investment propositions continued to deliver good investment performance for clients. Quilter Cheviot continued to outperform relevant ARC benchmarks, remaining principally first or second quartile, to the end of March 2021.

The medium and longer-term performance of Quilter Investors’ multi-asset solutions has also remained good. The performance on the biggest range, Cirilium Active, has been excellent on a one-year view, with a strong rebound in performance since the market lows in March 2020. The repositioning of our managed portfolio solution, Wealth Select, to provide an additional proposition on our restricted adviser panel has been well received by clients and advisers. Wealth Select’s performance remains strong over one, three and five years.

Transformation

Our transformation agenda remains firmly on track with its focus on:

  • delivering a material improvement in client flows to the Quilter Investment Platform;
  • repositioning our advice business through a focus on adviser productivity and continued investment to simplify end-to-end processes and strengthen controls;
  • investing in efficiency and digital initiatives to improve productivity while making Quilter a simpler and more focused business; and
  • improving operational leverage by scaling up our investment platform and investment solutions business.


In respect of our UK Platform Transformation Programme, while we are in the early days of being fully operational on the new platform, we are pleased with the level of engagement with the new platform. By way of example:

  • over 2,700 firms on the platform have conducted more business with us in the first half of 2021 when compared with the first half of 2020;
  • our enhanced discretionary investment management functionality enables advisers to efficiently outsource investment management through portfolios offered by around 60 investment managers, including Quilter Cheviot. The pace of adoption has been swift with an additional £2.4 billion of AuA switching from existing investments to using this capability, including £1.0 billion of AuA with investment managers added to the platform since the migration. This functionality is a key NCCF growth enabler allowing the platform to capitalise on the structural shift to outsourced portfolio management.
  • 37% of new business flows in H1 2021 benefitted from our market-leading family linking platform functionality to join accounts and reduce charges.

At the beginning of 2021 we indicated that Quilter Financial Planning expected to shift its focus towards advisor productivity. We wish to ensure that restricted advisers within our network are fully aligned with our integrated proposition and that those advisers within the network who have remained independent have a pathway towards adopting restricted status where appropriate within a reasonable timeframe. Where this has not been the case, we have facilitated a number of departures and this has led to a decrease in the total numbers of Quilter restricted advisers from 1,842 at the end of December 2020 to 1,701 at the end of June 2021. Together with stronger markets, the corollary to this has been a marked improvement in productivity, with NCCF per adviser increasing to £2.2 million from £1.6 million and £1.5 million in the comparable periods of 2019 and 2020 respectively. While our work to reshape our Advice business is ongoing, we expect the rate of attrition in adviser numbers to reduce in the second half before returning to a growth path from 2022 onwards.

Overall Quilter Cheviot Investment Manager headcount eased modestly to reflect a couple of expected retirements. With the transfer of Quilter Private Client Advisers into Quilter Cheviot at the end of July 2021 to build out its multi-channel offering, Quilter Cheviot has 230 client facing professionals and we expect this number to gradually increase over time.

Our Optimisation programme continues to progress to plan. There are three strands to Optimisation: closer business integration, rationalising technology and discretionary spend, and process simplification. During the period, our new firm-wide general ledger, which replaced five previous separate general ledger systems, came on stream and will bring opportunity for continued efficiencies. By end-June, our net Optimisation run-rate savings increased by £11 million from the run-rate at the end of 2020. We realised a further £3 million saving in the first half against the 2018 cost baseline.

Responsible business and stewardship

Quilter is committed to responsible investment and earlier this year we updated our matrix for our restricted network advisers to incorporate ESG ratings and two specific ESG solutions, one of which was our own climate assets fund managed by Quilter Cheviot. As a result, ascertaining clients ESG preferences is now a core input into the advice process for our restricted advisers. Our investment teams are focused on incorporating ESG analysis into their investment processes. We continue to make good progress with ensuring that, where possible, all model holdings for equities and funds within Quilter Cheviot and Quilter Investors are appropriately evaluated against ESG metrics.

During the period, we have continued to work closely with the skilled person review investigating the Lighthouse DB to DC transfers. Our focus remains on doing the right thing by any customers who were poorly advised, even though this advice predates our acquisition of Lighthouse. The skilled persons review has identified some instances of further unsuitable DB to DC advice given by Lighthouse advisers beyond that relating to British Steel Pension Scheme transfers. As a result of this, we have increased our provision by £7 million to cover the potential for additional remediation together with the associated costs. We expect the skilled persons review to conclude in the first half of 2022.

We were delighted to welcome Chris Samuel to the Board as an independent Non-executive Director from the beginning of July. Chris is also Chair of Quilter Financial Planning Limited and has joined both the Board Risk Committee and the Board Technology and Operations Committee. Chris’ deep experience and expertise as an executive and as a Non-executive Director in the asset management industry will enable him to make a strong contribution to the deliberations of the Quilter Board.

Tazim Essani, who was appointed to the Quilter Board in March 2021, has agreed to act as the second designated Non-executive Director for employee engagement, with a particular focus on promoting diversity and inclusion. Tazim has also been appointed to the Board Audit Committee from 1 September 2021.

Outlook

Quilter remains well positioned in an industry with long-term secular growth prospects. We are pleased with progress made in executing our strategy to date, and remain on track to meet the operating margin targets set out with the announcement of the sale of Quilter International.

Market levels remain generally buoyant globally, supported by accommodative monetary policies which are likely to be withdrawn as economies and societies adjust to the post-pandemic world. More recently, we have experienced bouts of volatility reflecting uncertainty over the heightened US-China tensions, coupled with concerns over the direction of inflation and interest rates. This leaves us cautious on expectations of further substantial near-term market appreciation.

Mortgage and protection advice revenues in the first half benefitted from the acceleration in residential property transactions ahead of the withdrawal of measures to stimulate the UK housing market and so we expect a more muted contribution from this business activity in the second half. As previously guided, we also expect gradual mix-related revenue margin decline in Quilter Investors over time, reflecting client and adviser behaviour.

We remain focused on controlling costs through both our Optimisation programme and other management initiatives, with the full year out-turn for costs to be no higher than the £560 million guidance provided in March 2021, assuming broadly stable market levels and including Quilter International for the full year.

Completing the migration onto our new investment platform in February was a major milestone, strengthening the cohesion between our business capabilities, and will be a catalyst for faster growth. We are focused on improving operational efficiency and driving profit growth, and look forward to updating the market on plans at our Capital Markets Day on 3 November 2021.

Paul Feeney

Chief Executive Officer

 

Please click here for the full interim results announcement.

 

Quilter plc results for the six months ended 30 June 2021

Investor Relations

 

 

John-Paul Crutchley

UK

+44 77 4138 5251

Keilah Codd

UK

+44 77 7664 9681

Media

Tim Skelton-Smith

UK

+44 78 2414 5076

Camarco

 

 

Geoffrey Pelham-Lane

UK

+44 77 3312 4226

Disclaimer

This announcement may contain certain forward-looking statements with respect to certain Quilter plc’s plans and its current goals and expectations relating to its future financial condition, performance, and results. 

By their nature, all forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainty because they relate to future events and circumstances which are beyond Quilter plc’s control including amongst other things, international and global economic and business conditions, the implications and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the implications and economic impact of several scenarios of the UK’s future relationship with the EU in relation to financial services, market related risks such as fluctuations in interest rates and exchange rates, the policies and actions of regulatory authorities, the impact of competition, inflation, deflation, the timing and impact of other uncertainties of future acquisitions or combinations within relevant industries, as well as the impact of tax and other legislation and other regulations in the jurisdictions in which Quilter plc and its affiliates operate. As a result, Quilter plc’s actual future financial condition, performance and results may differ materially from the plans, goals and expectations set forth in Quilter plc’s forward-looking statements.

Quilter plc undertakes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements contained in this announcement or any other forward-looking statements it may make.