8 May 2022
Ambitious Amplifi Group expands its reach, invests in Tōtara Wealth Management
Amplifi Group is advancing its bid to build New Zealand’s pre-eminent independent wealth management group of companies with an investment in Nelson-headquartered boutique firm Tōtara Wealth Management. Tōtara Wealth was founded in 2017 by Richard Harden and Meredith Cornelius, who remain with the business as financial advisers. As part of the agreement, Mr Harden will remain a director and Ms Cornelius will serve as board secretary. Rebecca Thomas, the founder and CEO of Mint Asset Management (part of Amplifi Group) and Amplifi Managing Director Fred Ohlsson will join the Tōtara Wealth board.
The investment allows Tōtara Wealth to access Amplifi’s deep resource base with increased research and compliance support, and will enable the addition of another qualified financial adviser to support Tōtara Wealth’s growth. A more corporate structure ensures longevity and a long-term succession plan.
Under the terms of the agreement, Tōtara Wealth will retain its brand, Mr Harden and Ms Cornelius will retain their clients and administration staff, and the company’s investment strategies and advice will remain independent. Tōtara Wealth will maintain its own financial adviser licence with the FMA, with Richard Harden, Meredith Cornelius and James Hunt as the financial advisers under licence. The Tōtara Wealth office in Nelson will remain, and clients can expect to see an unchanged presence of the brand.
Mr Ohlsson says of the investment, “There is a strong fit in culture and philosophy between the brands. Amplifi backs the regionally and locally based operations and both businesses have the expertise and capability to deliver excellent outcomes for clients in a fully diversified manner. All portfolios are tailored to individuals’ personal circumstances rather than one-size-fits-all, a strategy that sets Tōtara Wealth apart and is core to the Amplifi model.”
Ms Thomas says, “Though the investment is a new development and a positive one for all parties, the relationship with Mint Asset Management has grown over a number of years. Richard, Meredith and I have known each other personally and professionally for over 15 years and Mint’s funds have been recommended to Totara Wealth’s clients, notably in the Australasian equity portion of portfolios. We have long spoken about the benefits of a network of independent adviser firms and we are all excited to see this vision taking shape.”
Mr Harden says, “Meredith and I merged our original businesses to found Tōtara Wealth in 2017 because of our shared desire to grow professionally as independent financial advisers – free from commissions, quotas and ‘cookie cutter’ financial planning and investment advice. We are proud that the business we have built has stayed true to these ideals.
“Last year we began talking about how we could grow Tōtara Wealth further and position it for the long term in a way that was aligned to our core values, bearing in mind that most of our clients will continue to need advice well beyond our working lives. Though we have no defined retirement timeframes, planning is in our DNA.”
On this basis, Ms Cornelius says, “Richard and I are therefore pleased, after some months of discussions and mutual due diligence, to have accepted investment from Amplifi Group, which shares our vision for a network of financial planning and investment advisory businesses. It is gratifying that Tōtara Wealth was identified as the ‘first cab off the rank’ in Amplifi’s work to build such a network, given our company’s reputation as a pre-eminent firm providing independent financial advice.
“Most importantly for our clients, the Amplifi investment is about longevity and securing the future of Tōtara Wealth while supporting the here and now. Tōtara Wealth will stay local and independent and our clients will receive the same service and experience, now with the backing of a larger national group of companies. We are looking forward to working with Rebecca and Fred, who we believe will only enhance the work we do on behalf of our existing and future clients.”
The parties note that the investment does not include a broker model. With independent advisers in Aotearoa New Zealand being an important but shrinking cohort, the investment is partly about protecting the space in this market for people to access bespoke advice that is tailored to their circumstances and objectives.
Amplifi Group was founded in late 2021 by Mint Asset Management’s employee shareholders and Ascentro Capital Partners. The goal is to build New Zealand’s pre-eminent independent wealth management group of companies. Amplifi Group will provide New Zealand individuals and organisations access to high-value services and best-of-breed investment products. The Group, which houses Mint Asset Management, is growing organically and through investments and acquisitions.
Mint has grown significantly in its 16 years and now has $1.7 billion in FUM as a sought-after boutique institutional quality manager for some of New Zealand’s most influential clients, including the NZ Superannuation Fund (GNZS).