Your future

Many business owners are closer to and therefore making plans for their business succession. In line with previous years, a sale to a likeminded advisory business is the preferred plan. Scaling your business is your biggest concern but also your greatest opportunity. There’s also interest in additional services and processes that can help further strengthen your client relationships.

Select a region on the map to see results at regional level.

Northern Ireland excluded due to an insufficient number of responses

Do you have a succession plan in place?

Who are you likely to sell your business to?

Would you consider selling your business in the next...

In terms of the future direction of your business…

Future business direction

Making sense of the whole financial planning process and trust are both key foundations upon which the success of your business is built. Nucleus users explore and often embrace new practices to enable them to continually enhance the service they provide to clients.

Advisers and planners are experts at bringing money to life through financial planning and coaching and it’s great to see the Nucleus audience embrace this with almost nine out of ten users agreeing coaching has or will become a huge part of their process.

Behavioural finance could be a key differentiator in helping understand the unconscious biases you and your clients may hold and how these can be built into your planning process to uncover what clients really think. Again, a huge proportion of Nucleus users (80%) believe this will play a larger role in helping understand their clients. Further details about this can be found in Nucleus’ whitepaper The role of behaviour in financial planning, written in partnership with Neil Bage and Dr. Ariel Cecchi of behavioural insights firm Be-IQ.

And of course, with everything we’ve been through, financial wellbeing and feeling in control of your financial future could be one less worry for us all. Over nine out of ten responders agree this is hugely important to their business and can continue to enhance the trusted relationship between planner and client.

In terms of the future direction of your business, how strongly do you agree with the following statements?

In business terms what is your main concern or challenge over the next year?

Concern and challenge

Your biggest concern is around how to scale your business efficiently. There are multiple reasons why scaling your business can be difficult – acquisition and recruitment can be tough and time consuming.

To scale, this will likely involve a structural change of your business which can be met with resistance. Perhaps the more digital way of operating has opened doors to new opportunities as this is less of a concern than in last year’s census, but clearly there’s no silver bullet. As always, regulation is highlighted, either from the existing state or through upcoming change. As we’ll see below, succession planning is creeping into sight for many business owners.


The need for your services remains high on the list of opportunities and this feels right. Coupled up is the need to build and improve your business (not too much of a leap to suggest this is to help meet increased demand).

So as big a challenge as building and scaling your business is, it’s undoubtedly a massive opportunity too. Another factor to help here would be increased automation in your business, which is seen as your third biggest opportunity. Again, the new way of working enforced as part of lockdown may have driven many to explore more of these opportunities. Anything that makes the advice process less manual would increase efficiency, reduce errors and create space. The challenge is finding the time to complete this.

What do see as the main opportunity over the next year?

Age catches up with us all

Do you have a succession plan in place?

The average age of responder to our census increased this year to 49. So despite many still being a long way from retirement, it’s clear thoughts about succession have started to creep up many to do lists. In terms of succession plans, there’s been a huge uplift in business owners having a plan in place, up from 40% last year to 65%. And of those that don’t, 41% have a plan in progress while around half feel it’s too soon.

When to sell?

Would you consider selling your business in the next...

This therefore has an impact on when business owners may consider selling their business with more open to a sale in the medium term and fewer stating they have long term plans to remain. Last year, less than 10% were considering selling within the next three years. This has rocketed to nearly a third. Despite just over half (52%) saying it’ll be at least five years or they have no plans to sell their business, this is down from over 60% last year and 74% in the 2019 census.

Sell to whom?

Who are you likely to sell your business to?

The trend of seeking a likeminded advice firm to sell to continues, with over half of business owners seeking this route. It’s a sensible approach and one that could see the least disruption for staff and clients if successful. Nucleus has a job to do here to help connect firms looking to sell with those looking to acquire. This would be a win-win for all parties. There remains little to no appetite to sell to a large consolidator or product provider. Despite the eyewatering deals on offer from some consolidators, many must live by the old adage ‘if it seems too good to be true, it probably is’. And the terms required to achieve the full valuation figure may be seen as a conflict of interest, which should be disclosed and managed.

Confidence in the future

Despite the challenges seen since March 2020, nearly all Nucleus users remain confident in the future of their business. And it’s easy to see why. For over half of firms to have emerged from a pandemic with an increase in revenue, an increase in active customer numbers and plans to continually improve the client experience, the future must be bright.

The future of financial planning

Our latest white paper, the future of financial advice, prepared in partnership with Phil Billingham, director, Perceptive Planning, explores the wider debate around financial planning and where this is heading. It also offers ideas for forward-looking practices to be fit for the future, and discusses the challenges that lie ahead.

Next… find out more

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© Nucleus Financial Services Limited 2021

Nucleus Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, is registered in England with company number 05629686 and has its registered office at Elder House, St Georges Business Park, Brooklands Road, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 0TS. Please note that telephone calls may be recorded in order to monitor the quality of our customer service and for training purposes.