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Financial Planning
BT cuts Wealth Connect

BT has proposed changes to its Wealth Connect business which could see at least 38 roles become redundant, as Westpac continues to review its wealth platform, superannuation, investments and insurance businesses.

BT's Wealth Connect team provides general financial product advice and deals in life insurance, managed funds and managed investment schemes; platforms, wraps and portfolio services; retirement savings accounts; superannuation; cash accounts and term deposits; securities and structured alternative investments.

In an internal memo presented to staff on Thursday and obtained by Financial Standard, BT announced the "Wealth Connect model in its current form is longer required".

In response to reduced client demand, the wealth giant announced general advice will no longer be delivered by Wealth Connect and its team of 50, and will instead transition to its customer relations team.

The strategy shift would see the role of Wealth Connect national manager of super, platforms and investments be "no longer required", with managerial positions across direct wealth, super retention, and platform engagement also terminated.

Additionally, 34 wealth consultant roles across super retention, direct wealth and platform engagement are also being made redundant. Two direct wealth roles (a conversation manager and subject matter expert) will also no longer be required.

As part of the changes, there will be a new team manager role created within BT's customer relations team, with nine new roles created in its "resolve" team set to report to the newly created manager position.

The restructure will also see the transition of 10 roles reporting to existing team managers within the customer relations SIR team, to be decided by a contestable role process.

If BT proceeds to implement the changes after a consultation period - set to conclude on October 28 - the restructure will result in the net reduction of 30 roles.

A spokesperson for BT said there would be no announcement at this time, as the wealth giant is currently consulting with its people on the proposed new structure.

"The proposed new structure will see a number of roles in Wealth Connect folded into existing teams and some new roles created," the spokesperson said.

"We regularly review our business models to ensure we have the best possible operating model to meet our customers' needs.

"Our priority is to ensure we support our people and provide opportunities within the proposed new structure as well as redeployment within the broader Westpac Group."

Wealth Connect as we know it today launched in 2011 and was then called 'Scalable Advice'. A team of around 30 provided general advice to BTFG customers across life insurance retention, new superannuation sales, consolidation and super retention.

The business was rebranded to 'Scaled Advice' in 2013, with intra fund advice and insurance sales now included in its offering. The business was rebranded again as Wealth Connect in 2015, with its team shifting to become digital or virtual wealth consultants. At this stage, more than 120 staffers worked across advice, life and super sales and super retention.

In October 2017, BTFG consolidated its advice and private wealth divisions. At the time, the group said the restructure was part of a wider strategy to maintain pace with the rapidly evolving nature of providing advice and changing consumer behaviours.

In September 2018, BTFG announced it was reviewing its business model for financial advice and would be scrapping its virtual advice initiative, resulting in significant redundancies.

Finally, in May of this year Westpac announced it was reviewing its business units after determining several lack sufficient scale or where risk outweighed return.

These included its wealth platforms, superannuation and retirement products, investments and general and life insurance.

Read more: BTWealth ConnectBTFGFinancial StandardWestpac Group
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