IRESS will be “led by the clients” following its purchase of IWL’s financial planning software business Visiplan, according to Andrew Walsh, Xplan managing director.

Walsh said Xplan, which was bought by IRESS in 2003 for $5 million, would not immediately supplant Visiplan but a hybrid of the two financial planning software systems may emerge. “I believe we may see the best of both [Xplan and Visiplan] and the development of new features,” Walsh said. The long-expected sale of Visiplan was announced yesterday with IWL receiving 5.95 million IRESS shares for the deal – equating to about $48.7 million based on the closing price of IRESS shares yesterday. Walsh said while there will be “opportunities to integrate” the two systems there would be no wholesale conversion of Visiplan users to Xplan. He said approximately 7,000 financial planners use Visiplan with 4-5,000 signed up to Xplan (excluding the users of insurance software system PlanTech, which IRESS bought in September last year of almost $17 million). Walsh said Xplan has been in talks with Visplan’s clients, including its largest institutional client the National Australia Bank/MLC, and they have “been supportive” of the takeover. Most of the Visiplan staff will keep their jobs and IRESS will maintain support for both systems, the company said in a statement yesterday. IWL said the firm would keep the 5.95 million IRESS shares as a “strategic” investment. Luke Littlefield, IWL chief operating and financial officer, said the IRESS scrip deal would enable it to benefit from any “share price accretion”. “Also it was pretty important to clients that this wasn’t just a ‘dump and run’ exercise,” Littlefield said. He said IWL would also take the opportunity to “run the tape measure” over its fund research business InvestorWeb. “[InvestorWeb] now becomes an even more minute part of our business… it may be that we decide to get bigger or get out,” Littlefield said. “However, we put the InvestorWeb research into our retail broking offering and if we had to buy that it would probably cost us the same… InvestorWeb washes its face.”

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