MWA Financial, an Independent Financial Advisor consolidation platform, has secured a significant growth capital investment from Coniston Capital to fund their acquisition strategy.

MWA Financial has already acquired five IFA businesses and has combined total Assets Under Advice of around £450 million. With this investment, the fifth from Coniston Capital, and three further acquisitions planned in the next year, MWA Financial will become a major IFA market player and wealth management practice in the UK.

MWA Financial was advised by Brachers. Coniston Capital was advised by Stephenson Harwood, HW Fisher, and Mazars.

The Client Relationship Consultancy (CRC) advised both MWA Financial and Coniston Capital.

Coniston Capital is a private equity firm that invests in UK based SMEs that require a partner to facilitate a change of ownership and help deliver their growth plans.

MWA Financial provides independent financial advice. Having developed financial advice platforms for major organisations in Australia for over 25 years, the company is set to recreate its holistic advice model in the UK. MWA Financial is chaired by Ed Rosengarten, with Cam Banks leading the management team.

CRC is a pioneer in B2B relationship intelligence. It delivers a scalable mechanism for customer feedback and strategic relationship management that defends the business against risk, uncovers opportunities, and drives growth.

Q&A with Emma Hillary, Consultant at CRC

Q: What was your involvement and responsibilities in this project?

Our role was to assist with due diligence on the potential investment deal by evaluating MWA Financial’s customer relationships.

Traditionally, due diligence looks at the financial, legal, and commercial aspects of a business. The problem is — you may see great numbers today, but if it turns out that 40% of

clients are unhappy and about to terminate the relationship, the investor won't get the ROI they're looking for.

That’s where the fourth pillar — Relationship due diligence — comes in. It assesses a company’s client relationships. We delivered that using our core service, TRR (The Referral Rating). It’s a scalable B2B customer feedback mechanism that consists of a strategically formulated two-question survey and in-depth client feedback analysis.

The customer rating and feedback we received was then analysed using our many hundred industry and business relationship benchmarks, NLP, and behavioural science.

MWA Financial received strong TRR results — an undeniable proof of the value of the business and the strength of the investment. More than that, the data and insights we gathered also allowed MWA Financial to reflect on their strengths and identify a clear path for improvement that can secure better ROI, sooner.

Q: What was the specific process you followed and how did you make sure both businesses are supported equally?

The core of our due diligence service is outcome-focused simplicity.

To gain a 360 view of the health of MWA Financial’s account, we surveyed key contacts across roles, seniority levels, and by advisor. We started by understanding the make-up of MWA Financial’s client base and determining who to survey, in order to tailor our analysis to what Coniston Capital was looking for and what MWA Financial would find most useful.

After the completion of the database and finalising the survey communication, we launched a two-week email survey period to gather feedback. The survey takes between 20 seconds and 2 minutes to fill out, which helps us secure higher than industry average response rate, exceeding 60%.

A few days after closing the survey, an assessment of MFA Financial customer relationships was complete.

We wanted to make sure each party received focused attention, so I held two executive review sessions, one with Coniston Capital and one with MWA Financial to discuss their TRR results in depth, share relevant industry benchmarks, and provide objective analysis of what the qualitative and quantitative data reveals.

Q: How exactly did your specialised knowledge of client relationships help in this project?

A key part of translating client feedback correctly is distinguishing between the relational and transactional factors of a relationship.

It’s no surprise that, if left untreated, transactional factors like timeliness, attention to detail, or efficiency can have a negative impact on the relationship. But what most businesses don’t realise is that relational factors, such as client service, understanding, and the ease of working with you are often the root cause of complaints around transactional matters.

That’s why relationships remain one of the most powerful and most underutilised levers for commercial growth.

With 19 years worth of data and hands-on experience, we can identify untapped opportunities and spot the early warning signs of looming relationship and commercial risks. Speaking from experience as a consultant, we have helped global and local businesses work through nearly every possible scenario in client relationships, which means we’re able to identify the strategies that will be most effective in each case.

To a business like MWA Financial, this gives complete visibility of the health of their client accounts and a partner who’s there to provide support in building high-performing relationships.

To a private equity fund like Coniston Capital, this means an investment with the potential to see ROI faster.

Q: What were the challenges you faced in this project?

From the start, both MWA Financial and Coniston Capital were invested in facilitating the evaluation of MWA Financial’s client relationships and identifying any potential risk as quickly as possible. That significantly helped the process.

The timings of the investment and the need for quick visibility meant that we were surveying MWA Financial’s clients in August. Traditionally, this is a period to avoid due to holidays and slightly lower response rates. However, not only did we manage to get the survey out in just over a week, but we also didn’t see a significant dip in response rates.

What’s more, MWA Financial’s TRR rating and level of client advocacy was above the norm — a tribute to the relationship focus their advisors exhibit.

Q: What are the next stages for CRC?

We’re looking forward to continuing working with MWA Financial to help them grow and expand and, by extension, allow Coniston Capital to see a greater return on their investment.

Additionally, 2023 has brought a lot of exciting developments here at CRC.

We’ve grown to 100+ consultants, data scientists, and software engineers across five continents.

The customer feedback we’ve analysed this year has come to nearly 750 thousand responses across more than 90 markets. We’ve also received ISO 27001 re-certification and released an API and a mobile app.

But what’s particularly exciting is our investment in new technology that will blend customer feedback analysis, two decades of industry benchmarks, and complex NLP and AI-powered client sentiment analysis at speed. This will provide companies like Coniston Capital and MWA Financial with an even better visibility of business relationships and in-depth evaluation of commercial risk and opportunity to inform their due diligence and growth strategy.

We’ll be sharing more details on the new products next year.

Q: How can companies reach you if they have more questions?

For more information, you can email me at or visit our website