Pax Financial, the wealth planning firm behind popular money advice brand Ask Paul, plans to buy more than 50 smaller brokers by 2027 to consolidate the sector under its new owner, Fairstone.
The big wave of acquisitions is being funded by the UK wealth manager that entered the Irish market with the purchase of Pax in September and will coincide with a big marketing push from January.
“I hope to acquire between 50 and 70 companies in the market over a four-year period,” said Pax owner Paul Merriman, who has been appointed Ireland CEO of Pax’s new brand, Fairstone, from 2023.
“We assume that we will probably reach between 4 and 5 billion euros over a period of five years [assets under management]. I think we have the first mover advantage in the market, which makes us very happy.”
This would make Pax/Fairstone one of the leading wealth management and financial planning firms in the country, able to compete with full-service brokers and the big insurance companies for the coveted “bulk wealth” segment.
Mr Merriman said he is targeting companies in the top five in the sector and is already negotiating deals with several brokerage firms that are expected to close in the first half of the new year. The strategy is being implemented against the background of strong consolidation among non-life insurance brokers over the past two years.
“So we talked to these people, talked about due diligence at the moment, talked about Ebitda, talked about warranties and disclosures and what’s going to happen from a legal standpoint, we just talked them through the process,” Mr. Merriman said.
Fairstone has been an extremely aggressive buyer in its UK home market since its inception in 2008. The firm, backed by private equity firms Synova Capital and TA Associates, has completed 50 of its own acquisitions, raising over £13bn in client assets.
With the acquisition of Pax, Fairstone brings its downstream buyout model – and its private equity balance sheet – to Ireland, while the Ask Paul brand is expected to continue to serve as a content marketing and customer acquisition channel to drive further organic growth.
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