Blog: Novia CEO: IFAs say I’m a private equity person – I’m not – FT Adviser

When Patrick Mill took the helm of Novia in May 2021, many saw him as an ‘AnaCap person’ swooping in to change the status quo.

He had, quite rightly, been appointed by the private equity company to lead the platform following the departure of its founder, Bill Vasilieff.

And he had indeed, also quite rightly, changed the status quo. His entrance into the company sparked a dozen executive departures following Vasilieff, including chair David Royds, as well as the CFO, COO, CTO and commercial director.

The departures raised advisers’ eyebrows. So much so, some quizzed the new CEO during a call hosted by the Lang Cat in November on what these mass exits meant for the business and its culture.

He told them “things needed to change”, that his plan was to move the business to £20bn+ from £12.5bn, and “some people decided that wasn’t right for them”.

He signalled a new era for the company, one that some advisers have since feared would bear the perceived weight of heavy private equity involvement.

But Mill insists he is anything but a private equity person. “Some IFAs have said that to me,” he told FTAdviser. “But I’m not an ‘AnaCap person’. I’m not a PE person at all. I’m an industry person and a platform person.”

Mill approached AnaCap with his thesis in 2018 on the opportunities in the platform industry where private equity could make good investments. 

“It’s the exact reversal of what normally happens. I went to the PE firms saying I had an idea, help me fund it,” he explains.

Mill worked with AnaCap for two years prior to its acquisitions of Novia and Wealthtime, another platform he headed up for six months.

Wealthtime is a separate platform to Novia and was acquired by AnaCap in December 2020. Total assets under administration across both platforms sat at around £11.8bn at the end of March, with £9.3bn sitting on Novia and £2.5bn sitting on Wealthtime.

Before his four years working with AnaCap, Mill was chief executive of Alliance Trust Savings – the platform that was bought by Embark in 2019 – for five years. 

He was also a sales director at Prudential, having spent the majority of his earlier career at Yorkshire-headquartered bank Bradford & Bingley, where he headed up the adviser service force looking after 650 IFAs.

“I understand what it’s like. I understand the pain points. And the other area I’ve worked in is product provider [Prudential] selling to IFAs.”

Career timeline

  • Currently CEO of Novia, Copia, and Wealthtime – became CEO of Wealthtime in December 2020, and of Novia in July 2021
  • Mill Consulting MD from November 2018 to November 2020
  • Alliance Trust Savings CEO June 2012 to December 2017, and sales and distribution director from July 2010 to June 2012
  • Prudential sales director from July 2005 to July 2010
  • Bradford & Bingley MD from December 1991 – July 2005

Asked why he approached AnaCap over other private equity companies, Mill says there were three main reasons. One was that the company only invests in financial services businesses.

“That is hugely helpful. They understand regulation. They understand the standard processes. They understand the market,” says Mill.

Number two was its technology focus when acquiring companies. And three was, he said, the business’s focus on “growth stories” versus cost reduction.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s