Speaking after its AGM in Dublin yesterday, the group’s chief executive, Mark Bourke said while acquisitions are not management’s main current priority, IFG had looked at every opportunity that had come to market, of late, but had been unimpressed with quoted valuations. However, Mr Bourke said management will continue to look at opportunities.
He added that while there hasn’t been a huge amount of consolidation in IFG’s areas of interest of late — independent financial advisory and specialist pension administration — he expects more activity over the next 18 months; adding that, with its strong balance sheet, IFG can be heavily involved.
IFG’s shareholders were told that the momentum made last year in the James Hay specialist pensions business, IFG Corporate Pensions and the Saunderson House advisory division has continued into this year with new client wins and rising sales.
Chairman John Gallagher said that management plans continued “significant investment” in existing businesses. While this will limit the group’s profit growth this year, it is likely to provide for good longer-term growth.
“The fundamentals of our core businesses are sound. We have a strong balance sheet, allowing us to invest in the business, and we are confident of delivering substantial growth in the medium-term,” he added.
IFG has also supported Ibec’s attack on the Government for “inaction” on the pensions crisis.
“The Government has been slow to legislate fairly and appropriately. They have focused on short-term issues instead of the ‘ticking time bomb’ that is pension provision.
“We have an aging population, people are living longer and not saving enough. The Government needs to provide a robust system that has a core savings ethos, with a level of flexibility that allows some element of access for certain expenses such as school fees,” noted IFG’s director of corporate pensions, Fionan O’Sullivan.