How Conquest is making a play for the UK market

CEO of financial planning platform shares how partnership with Fidelity is helping it make inroads to advisors across the pond

How Conquest is making a play for the UK market

After cementing its reputation as a leader in Canada’s wealthtech space with a spate of partnerships, Conquest Planning is following through on its ambitions to expand into other markets.

Recently, Conquest officially announced its first foray into the U.K market as it sought to help advisors address the financial advice gap – a prevalent problem in Canada and across the world.

“One of the reasons why we launched Conquest was to try and address the lack of access to advice for ordinary people, which is a challenge for the majority of the population around the world,” said Mark Evans, founder and CEO of Conquest Planning. “Most people can only get access to the kind of advice they really need if they have investable assets above some threshold, usually around $250,000 or half a million. So we wanted to build a solution, not just to work in the Canadian marketplace, but to work globally.”

Conquest’s path into the U.K. market was paved by its connection with Fidelity International Strategic Ventures (FISV), Fidelity’s U.K.-based venture capital arm that’s also one of Conquest’s key investment partners. As Evans explains, Conquest was able to sign a distribution deal with its sister company Fidelity Advisor Solutions in the U.K. market, which gives the Canadian wealthtech platform access to the Fidelity’s sales and support infrastructure across the pond.

“That allows us to go into the U.K. with minimal investment in actual feet on the street,” he says. “We have hired people there, including a couple of really good product people and a really good sales lead, and we're bringing in a fourth resource in July the handle product support. But we can do that with without having to hire a whole team of sales representatives to introduce ourselves to that market.”

To localize its financial planning software solution to the U.K. market, Conquest had to program in different parameters for income tax calculations, including tax brackets and credits for certain expenditures. Unlike in Canada, Evans noted that taxpayers in the U.K. also have to pay an inheritance tax on certain types of bequests, which means Conquest’s platform across the pond had to be able to illustrate the impact of leaving an estate in certain forms.

The U.K version also had to account for individual savings accounts, or ISAs, which are functionally similar to Canadian TFSAs. Beyond that are pension pots, which are structures where individuals can make contributions towards their retirement, either on their or with the help of an employer; for that, the platform had to be programmed to model how people can crystallize their savings upon retirement, transfer funds between pots, and do other transactions as they build up their nest eggs.

“We were actually able to leverage some of the expertise Fidelity has on staff,” Evans says. “They have a number of pension experts that we use to fully understand what we needed to build into our platform. One of their lead resources actually told us recently that our software is more elaborate and provides more coverage on pension illustrations in the UK market than any other product he's ever seen.”

To verify the tax optimization, investment modelling, and other calculations that underpin Conquest’s financial planning software in the U.K., it elicited the help of Ernst &Young, which gave them a thumbs up. To ensure that the platform’s algorithms remain correct moving forward, Evans says E&Y will be doing annual reviews of the underlying formulas and calculations.

Following the spate of partnerships Conquest has inked in the Canadian financial planning software space, Evans believes the U.K. market is similarly rife with opportunity.

While a wave of regulatory changes had swept over that market a few years ago, leading some players to exit, he says the tide is turning. Now, many of those firms want to get back in the game, and the most cost-effective way to do that – while taking the requirements for quality advice, oversight, compliance, and other aspects into consideration – is through the use of technology.

“We are driven by a noble cause to make advice accessible to all. Leveraging the power of technology, we are democratizing access to advice,” Evans says. “We partner with the globe’s largest financial institutions to power new experiences, resulting in deeper served and happier end customers.”