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Financial Services Newsletter - Friday 5th February 2021

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Wealth Manager and Private Bank Coutts is to relaunch its private office for UHNW clients under the new brand Coutts Family Office (CFO). Coutts says the new-look CFO division will open the door for clients to access more services from parent company NatWest and third parties such as Blackrock. Domestic and international family office and UHNW clients will benefit as a result of the relaunch, Coutts says. Warren Thompson, Head of Family Office & UHNW, will run the operation.

London-based IFA Barnaby Cecil has opened a new client-facing office in Highgate. Founder and director, Thomas Skinner says that when starting the firm in 2019, he wrote a five-year plan that involved an admin office in Leytonstone from the start, with the use of a members’ club in Moorgate for meetings. Skinner is based in Leytonstone, and one of his priorities when setting up Barnaby Cecil was being able to walk his sons to nursery every day.

Wealth Manager St James’s Place is to cut 200 jobs from its workforce following a review of the business. The company says it has been carrying out a strategic review for the past 12 months and identified some duplication of tasks and some unnecessary work which made a number of jobs redundant. Staff were informed about the changes this morning with some set to be offered voluntary redundancy or, in some cases, a transfer to other roles within the company. About 1 in 10 of the company's 2,000 staff will go.

NextGen Planners’ Adam Owen is running a three-month video making ‘masterclass’ with Kate Holmes from the Innovating Advice Show podcast to help Financial Planners get comfortable on camera and learn the technical elements of video content creation.

Statutory unaudited operating losses fell 47% to £3.6m (2019: £6.9m loss) at the Succession Wealth Financial Planning and wealth management group for the year ended 31 December 2020. The firm said its latest financial results represent a “step up” in its financial performance, with 552 new clients joining the group. After financing costs of over £12m, the firm reported a statutory loss before tax of £16m in its unaudited results for 2020. This figure is a drop from £17m reported in 2019.

M&G is set to invest £5bn (€5.6bn) in sustainable private assets, which will be overseen by a newly created global team. The allocation will be made from the £136bn Prudential With-Profits Pension fund, a diversified portfolio of public and private assets that includes PruFund, which will funnel part of the long-term savings of Prudential’s five million customers to private assets that have a social or environmental purpose.

IFA consolidator Independent Wealth Planners (IWP) has rebranded its Welsh hub Bartholomew Hawkins Asset Management ‘in a new era’ for the Cardiff-based firm.

IFAs have said they are frustrated by problems following their migration onto Quilter’s new Old Mutual Wealth (OMW)platform, highlighting incorrect transactions and client direct debits. Although one Adviser stressed the training and customer support OMW has put in place has been excellent and that things are improving, four IFAs said that tech issues have affected their clients.

Jupiter is making up to 90 staff roles redundant over the next six months, as Chief Executive Andrew Formica said the firm needed to become more ‘agile’. As many as 16% of staff will be made redundant across the UK business, though it was not immediately clear which departments would be affected.

AJ Bell’s fund management business has reached £1bn in Assets Under Management (AUM) as the platform’s net flows got off to a ‘strong start’ to its financial year. In financial statements released this morning for the three months to 31 December 2020, the platform reported its fund arm passed the £1bn mark for the first time, as its assets doubled from the same quarter in 2019.

Advisers once again face the maximum Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)levy as the lifeboat scheme expects complex pension advice claims and the pandemic to push its total bill above £1bn. The Adviser funding class is expected to pay £240m to fund the FSCS over 2021/22, the highest possible level for a single funding class. It is the second year in a row the life distribution and investment intermediation (LDII) class ended with the maximum levy.  

The Financial Ombudsman Service has told Brewin Dolphin to pay £60,000 in tax incurred on a client’s Pension on the basis of unsuitable advice. Ombudsman Kim Parsons said a Brewin Dolphin Adviser who suggested a client put £160,000 in a Sipp should have known about a previous withdrawal from a separate Pension plan.

Losses at Succession Wealth continued in 2019 and 2020 as the national IFA was hit with more redundancy, restructuring and interest on debt costs, as well as having to set aside more than £500,000 to compensate clients who had not received a service. Although losses reduced in 2020, both financial years show the firm’s bottom line was impacted by financing costs for its rising debt as well as restructuring and one-off expenses.

Office closures used to be a sign of companies in trouble and mass redundancies, but when firms announce them now, they seem to point to Covid-19 changing the way we work. That is exactly what Aviva has done as it announced it is closing offices and letting its staff continue to work from home even after the pandemic is over. The Insurer, which employs around 1,600 staff, will be closing one of its offices in York as well as two sites in Norwich.

JM Finn is set to open a new headquarters in the City of London, as it seeks to prepare for the change in working habits in a post pandemic world. The firm will take the 5th and part of the 6th floors at 25 Copthall Avenue, a short way away from its existing base in Coleman Street, the lease of which will shortly expire. It marks the first move in headquarters for the firm in 13 years, with Chief Executive Hugo Bedford highlighting the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the firm’s decision.

Sanlam Investments, a private wealth management and investment company, has finalised the acquisition of eight funds managed by investment management and accountancy groupSmith and Williamson. Some £1.2bn in Assets Under Management (AUM) will be transferred to Sanlam, including a £629m artificial intelligence fund.

Vintage Wealth Management is to acquire Surrey-based Corfe Wealth Management for an undisclosed sum. North London-based Vintage said the deal was part of an acquisition and organic growth strategy. Corfe was founded by Chartered Financial Planner Christopher Webb in 2011. He will continue as a client-facing Adviser within the group with a remit to expand the Vintage proposition across the south east.

Mattioli Woodshas purchased the direct Property planning division ofBDO Northern Ireland, which provides administration to around £233m in trust assets. The purchase, for a price calculated as 50% of profits from BDO’s regional exempt Property unit trust division over a period of 30 months from purchase, would complement Mattioli’s Sipp and SSAS business, the firm said. 

In further news...Mattioli Woods has acquired Twickenham-based advice and wealth management firm Montagu in a deal worth £2.3m. Montagu, which was founded in 1996, has around £80m in assets under advice and 150 private and corporate clients.

Former Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA)boss Martin Gilbert is gearing up for a spectacular return with a £3m investment in London-listed firm AssetCo. Gilbert and former SLA colleague Peter McKellar were part of a group of investors acquiring a 29.8% minority stake in AssetCo.

Schroder UK Public Private (SUPP)shares jumped 7.4% this morning after the former Woodford Patient Capital Trust celebrated the sale of one of its portfolio companies. The company told investors it expected to receive a £65m windfall from the $1.1bn acquisition of cancer therapist Kymab announced by Sanofi. The French drugs giant has also agreed to pay a further $350m if the company hits various milestone targets in the next seven years.

New York-based HPS Investment Management has taken a 22% stake in Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management UK for £125m. HPS, a global investment firm with $68bn (£50bn) in assets under management, said it will be the new strategic and Financial Partner of the £29.7bn Wealth Manager on future acquisitions and growth opportunities.

US private equity (PE) firm Flexpoint Ford has offered £225m to buy Bromsgrove-headquartered advice firmAFHmight seem a little exotic. Flexpoint is a specialist in healthcare and financial services. Though typically the latter consists of things such as insurance, there is an exchange-traded fund provider and multi-asset trading business. It has raised over $4.3bn (£3.1bn) in capital.

Dundee-based IFA Thorntons Investments has made its first two acquisitions with the purchase of fellow Dundee firm Sonas Wealth Management and Aberdeen-based IFA Matheson Financial Consulting.

Private equity-backed financial services firm Wren Sterling has completed its first transaction of 2021 with the acquisition of White Wells Investments. Ilkley-based White Wells has approximately £50m of client assets under advice and, under the terms of the deal, the firm’s Principal Michael Dunn has joined Wren Sterling as an employed Adviser.

Brown Shipley has tapped Julius Baer for the third time in three months, this time to appoint Director Philipp Iarmaltchouk as it targets family office and Asset Managers across the UK. Iarmaltchouk will help create a Financial Intermediaries Market (FIM) desk, to be led by FIM Group Head Stephan Matti, as the group looks to strengthen its proposition across the UK and Europe.

Investec Investment Director Bill Tibbits is to rejoin JM Finn, where he started his career 16 years ago. Tibbits worked at Investec for nine years, joining the firm upon its acquisition of Williams de Broë. In his new role as a Senior Investment Manager, Tibbits will be based in JM Finn’s Winchester office, reporting to Investment Director Simon Tufnell.

Brown Shipley has launched a charities and philanthropy arm to be headed up by industry veteran Rupert Cecil. He will be responsible for overseeing the new offering, managing the assets of UK charities, endowments, religious establishments, schools and universities.

Rathbones has appointed former CEO of Phoenix Group Clive Bannister as Non-Executive Director and Chairman Designate, replacing Mark Nicholls at the firm’s 6 May AGM. Joining the Rathbones board with immediate effect, Bannister will also Chair the firm's nomination committee upon Nicholls' retirement and will join its group risk committee.

The Head of Portfolio Management at Seven Investment Management (7IM),Haig Bathgate, is leaving the business to pursue a new challenge. The group confirmed that Bathgate, who joined the firm from Tcam in 2018 after 7IM acquired the Edinburgh-based DFM, will leave the business early this year, although it is unclear what his next project will be.

RWC Partners has appointed former Columbia Threadneedle Analyst Chris Anker to lead its environmental, social and governance (ESG) projects. Anker will assess ethical risks in clients’ portfolios, reporting to Head of Investment Strategy and ESG Arthur Grigoryants.

The Embark Group has appointed ex-Alliance Trust Savings (ATS) platform Chief Sara Wilson as its new Head of Proposition.

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos is to step down as CEO of the company this summer and transition to the role of Executive Chairman, the company has announced. Bezos will be replaced as Amazon CEO by Andy Jassy, who is currently the CEO of the firm’s cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Bartholomew Hawkins Asset Management, which is now Maven Wealth Management, has named former Succession Wealth Adviser Wes Nixon as its new CEO, subject to regulatory approval.

Hawksmoor Investment Management is set to open a new office in Bath, naming former professional Cricketer Dean Hodgson as Senior Investment Manager. Hodgson spent seven years at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club before retiring in 1995. He joins from Investec, together with his colleagues Mike Topham and Sally Overton. Topham joins as a Business Development Manager after 10 years at Investec, while Overton joins as an Investment Assistant.

George Osborne has relinquished his role at BlackRock to take up a partnership post with M&A specialist Robey Warshaw. The former chancellor is also giving up his role as Editor-in-Chief of the Evening Standard ahead of his move to the boutique.

Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA)has made four senior appointments and announced its advice boss has left the business. Julie Scott, 1825 CEO’s, leaves the business to take on a Chief Customer Officer role at Royal London. The firm is currently looking to replace Scott. Noel Butwell, who is heading the firm’s advice division, will also take on CEO responsibilities for the personal division in the interim. SLA has also hired 17 year Citi bank veteran David Mouillé to its corporate development team to grow its personal division. In addition SLA has announced Katie Trowsdale has been promoted to Head of Multi-Manager Strategies, which sits within Aberdeen Standard Investments’ multi-asset division. René Buehlmann has been appointed CEO for Asia Pacific. Chris Demetriou, currently Head of Americas, has been appointed Chief Executive for the UK, EMEA and the Americas.

EdenTree Investment Management has hired Charlie Thomas as Chief Investment Officer (CIO), following his exit from Jupiter. Thomas will join EdenTree in Q2 of this year and will be tasked with ‘reinvigorating EdenTree’s product range’ as it seeks to grow.

Adrian Murphy, CEO of Murphy Wealth, was appointed Chair of the board of trustees for MND Scotland in December 2020. MND Scotland is a leading charity providing care and support to people affected by Motor Neurone Disease (MND), as well as funding vital research into finding a cure. Murphy kicked off his new position by taking part in the Marcothon; a challenge that people all over the world take up to run 5km every day in December. Murphy and a few of the Murphy Wealth team took part, hoping to raise £5,000 for the charity by running 155km each.

Wishart Wealth, part of the McHardy Group, is welcoming Mark Thornton-Smith as a new Chartered Financial Planner. 

M&G has appointed Alex Seddon, previously Co-Head of private credit, to lead a newly created global investment team called Catalyst to oversee the new investments. He will report into Will Nicoll, CIO of Private and Alternative Assets.

Neil Carroll Chartered Financial Planner, has joined Wren Sterling in Warwick to take over a book of HNW clients via an acquisition.

Henwood Court have appointed Chartered Financial Planner Steven Read to the Midlands business.

Gareth Sawyer has joined Tilney Smith & Williamson following on from a successful career within the Financial Services industry as they continue to strengthen their Corporate proposition.

All information provided in this Market Digest has been gathered from multiple Financial Services Media sources and individual company press releases.