Yorkshire's Fintel buys VouchedFor review site and AKG ratings service in £9.1m swoops

Huddersfield-based Fintel has made two major acquisitions for a combined total of £9.1m as the firm expands the services it offers to companies operating in the retail financial services sector.

The company has announced the £7.5m purchase of VouchedFor, a leading review site for professional advisers.

Fintel’s subsidiary Defaqto has also acquired AKG, a market leading ratings provider, for an initial £1.6m. A further £400,000 contingent earnout is possible, based on certain trading criteria being delivered in the first three years of ownership.

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The deals mark the third and fourth acquisitions by the company this year, following the purchases of learning and development provider, Competent Adviser and tax efficient investing specialists Micap completed in July.

Matt Timmins, joint CEO of Fintel. Picture: Heather Magner/Northern ExpoMatt Timmins, joint CEO of Fintel. Picture: Heather Magner/Northern Expo
Matt Timmins, joint CEO of Fintel. Picture: Heather Magner/Northern Expo

Fintel said that its wider business is delivering “resilient earnings” in line with expectations, with “the ongoing pressures in the UK housing market being largely offset by continued progress in software license sales and acquisitions”.

Matt Timmins, Joint CEO of Fintel, said: “VouchedFor and AKG are two market leading businesses which are highly complementary to our offering and share our vision.

"VouchedFor is the UK’s standard bearer for Trusted Advice while AKG has been at the forefront of financial strength ratings and consultancy for over 20 years. Both have strong adjacencies in terms of our capabilities and customers, and we look forward to further developing their compelling growth prospects.

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“We continue to deliver growth organically and make progress consolidating the fragmented software market, providing efficiencies for advisers and creating better outcomes for all participants.

"With a strong M&A pipeline, underpinned by our balance sheet and cash position, we are confident in making further strategic progress.”

VouchedFor provides reviews on a wide range of services, including financial advisers, mortgage advisers, solicitors, and accountants and currently has over 5,000 paying members and over 350,000 client reviews. Following the acquisition, its leadership and team will remain in place and work alongside the Fintel management team.

Neil Stevens, Joint CEO of Fintel, said: "VouchedFor is an exceptional business with a very important mission – to increase confidence in, and generate demand for, professional financial advice. We passionately believe in the enormous value of professional advice and will invest in VouchedFor to grow its market reach; ensuring the UK’s standard bearer for trusted advice can serve every advice business in the UK.

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“We are delighted that the talented team at VouchedFor shares our vision for the future and we are closely aligned in our mission to promote and enable better connections to professional advice. We will be working with the team to take that mission to the next level in 2024 and further announcements of a groundbreaking new service we’ve developed together will be made in the coming weeks.”

Alex Whitson, Managing Director of VouchedFor, added: “I am thrilled that we have found a partner who shares our commitment to championing the value of advice – a mission that is crucially important. Our technology makes it easier for advisers to deliver and showcase great client experience, enabling the public to get the help they need. Fintel’s investment will enable us to accelerate our growth, launch more services for advisers, and enhance our client offering. I believe that the combination of Fintel and VouchedFor will be incredibly positive for the entire profession.”

AKG is a market leader in the provision of independent assessment and rating of financial strength for a range of entities including life companies, investment platforms and discretionary fund managers in the UK. AKG ratings and reports are made available to advisers and their clients through advice technology, provider channels and directly from the AKG portal.

Defaqto CEO John Milliken said: “Defaqto is expanding through a combination of organic growth and acquiring some of the most highly regarded businesses in the industry that have strong adjacencies in terms of capabilities and customers. AKG is a strategically significant acquisition, adding industry expertise, insight and data that is complementary to Defaqto’s. We very much look forward to working with the talented team at AKG to invest in the business and make it an even greater success in the future, enabling more people to make smarter financial decisions.”

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Guy Vanner, MD at AKG, said: “We are delighted to become a part of the Fintel family. AKG has specialised in company assessment work for over 30 years and has become synonymous with the assessment of operational financial strength from the perspective of end customers, for use by their advisers. We are now excited to be able to further expand the delivery of our existing and new ratings and reviews to new and existing customers with the assistance of Defaqto and within the broader Fintel group.”