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Financial Services Newsletter - Friday 4th June 2021

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Financial Services News

Glasgow-basedIndependent Benefit Consultancyhas entered liquidation one year after giving up its Defined Benefit (DB) transfer permissions. The advice business, which has previously claimed to be one of Scotland’s largest IFAs, was ordered by the court to wind up on 28 April this year after being unable to repay its debts, according to documents filed at Companies House. Insolvency practitioner Leonard Curtis Recovery was appointed as the liquidator.

Charles Stanleyhas launched a new basic advice service amid a reorganisation of its front office into three new main divisions. The establishment of the new division, Central Financial Services, was revealed in the group’s results for the year to the end of March, which showed pre-tax tax falling 10.9% to £17.2m. Central Financial Services is set to provide ‘a simplified advice offering’ and will consolidate the company’s model portfolio services, the Charles Stanley Direct discount fund Broker and execution-only service.

Transact’spre-tax profit hit £30.7m in the first six months of its financial year after seeing another record period for inflows. In the six months to 31 March Transact saw net inflows of £2.3bn, compared to £2.1bn in the same period last year.

A formerCouttsemployee who supplied personal client details to scammers in a £2.3m fraud has been jailed for four years. Luke Williams was sentenced on Monday at Southwark Crown Court after he admitted conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation against the private bank. 

Student support body theFinancial Adviser Mentorship group (FAM)has teamed up withNextGen Plannersto help support Planners through exams. FAM will launch its own private social network, which will enable its members to have access to NextGen content and its community.

Bonds are giving many Investment Directors a headache. Following a major sell-off in fixed income, some are questioning whether bonds are safe at all for Investors. The chief cause of concern is a rising tide of inflationary factors that will likely lead to interest rate hikes. Matthew Clark, Director of Exeter-basedSeabrook Clark, said the bond part of his portfolios has become the most difficult to manage this year. "The past 30 years have been fantastic for fixed income investors," he said. "Bond indices have beaten the FTSE over long periods. But when rates start rising, all that could change. It could be a generational turning point.".

St James’s Place (SJP)has added around £35bn of client assets since this time last year, pushing to a new record, as it becomes the latest beneficiary of the return of client confidence. As marketes opened SJP’s shares were up 1.13% on the news. As with other advice businesses, asset managers and platforms, SJP has seen confidence born from the unwinding of lockdown measures combine with the April tax year-end, an annual catalyst for money to be invested through tax wrappers.

Premier Mitonhas passed £13bn in Assets Under Management (AUM) as fund flows returned to positive territory. In its results covering the six months to the end of March, the firm said AUM had jumped by 38% from £9.1bn in March 2020 to £12.6bn.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Mattioli Woodshas bought North West advice giantLudlow Wealth Managementand alternative Asset ManagerMaven Capitalin a double deal worth up to £143.5m.Ludlow Wealth Management will add £1.6bn of advised assets and 22 Advisers to Mattioli Woods. 

Asset management giantSchroders (SDR)ditched its plan to create a £1trn asset manager via an acquisition ofM&Gearlier this year over concerns it would damage its culture. A proposal formed in collaboration with an unnamed Partner would have meant Schroders – which is already the UK’s biggest specialist Manager with £672bn in Funds Under Management – would have taken over M&G’s funds, while disposing of its Life and Pension business. The plan would have created a £1tn Asset Manager, but it never progressed to an approach.

National advice groupTrue Potentialis once again speaking to suitors over a possible sale of the North East-headquartered business. In 2018, True Potential initiated a sale process, with Investment Bankers appointed to help it look for a buyer. However that process did not end in a new owner of the advice, platform tech and funds business, with talks breaking down in early 2019. An information memorandum has once again been circulated among the industry, with interest from Private Equity, Asset Management and Providers.

Investec Wealth & Investmentis looking at taking advantage of acquisition opportunities in the UK, after its Assets Under Management reached a new high. Investec Chief Executive Fani Titi said the UK wealth arm was ‘an attractive business in a market that has to consolidate’.

Fairstoneis continuing its acquisition spree with the purchase of East Midlands-basedSterling Asset Management. Earlier this year, Fairstone strengthened its position in Scotland with the purchase of Glasgow-basedChartermarque.

Movers & Shakers

Wealth ManagerWalker Cripshas boosted its Financial Planning division with a raft of hires for its new Southampton office. The firm has recruited Nick Lee FCSIand Chartered Financial PlannerCharles Cavendish FPFSfor the new Hampshire regional office based in Southampton and set to open in the summer. Walker Crips says it is expanding its Financial Planning offering in the South with the opening of the Southampton office. Mr Lee and Mr Cavendish are joined byKris WattsandJasmine Ng, Paraplanner and Wealth Administrator respectively, who will also be based in the new office. 

Investec Wealth & Investmenthas hired a Senior Investment Director to its London office.Michelle Whitejoins the firm from Julius Baer, where she was an Executive Director in London for three years specialising in providing services to US clients.

St James’s Place (SJP)has appointedAndy Payneto lead its academy training scheme for new recruits. Payne was previously Head of Transition in SJP’s business establishment - the department that supports Advisers setting up their own SJP partner practice. 

Martin Gilbert’s new investment vehicleAssetCohas poached Columbia Threadneedle’s Sales Boss.Gary Collins, who worked at Columbia Threadneedle for 15 years, latterly as EMEA and Latin America Distribution Head, will join AssetCo as Head of Distribution.

Brooks Macdonaldhas promoted Deputy Chief ExecutiveAndrew Shepherdto head the company as incumbentCaroline Connellansteps down to join Standard Life Aberdeen.

NoviaChief ExecutiveBill Vasilieffis leaving the business following its private equity takeover. Vasilieff andDavid Roydsstepped down as CEO and Chairman on 29 April.  

Life and pensions company Chesnara has appointed former 1825 boss Steve Murray as its new CEO. Murray will leave his current role as chief commercial officer at Royal London to replace Chesnara CEOJohn Deaneby the end of 2021. 

Royal Londonhas hired former Scottish Conservatives LeaderRuth Davidsonas a Non-Executive Director who will serve on its board. Davidson served as Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party between 2011 and 2019. She is widely credited with increasing the popularity of her party north of the border in the face of waning Labour support and steadfast Scottish National Party performance at the polls.

Former Brooks Macdonald Director and Head of Multi-AssetJonathan Webster-Smithhas joined London-basedBowmore Asset Managementas Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer (CIO). 

Jacqui Jardinehas stood down asBeaufort Group’sChief Financial Officer (CFO) after five years in the role. Jardine stepped down as Beaufort’s CFO at the end of April, and the group’s Chief Operating Officer (COO),Jade Swanston, will have responsibility for its finances going forward.

Former President of thePersonal Finance Society (PFS) Adam Owenhas resigned from his position on its board. Owen, who is also Director and Head of Content at the NextGen Planners group, said the timing of his departure was not related to the recent resignation of CEO Keith Richards.

Transacthas hired former Royal London directorTom Dunbaras its new Chief Development Officer. Dunbar, who was at Royal London for just under four years, most recently as its Distribution Director, joined Transact this month.

Sedulo Wealthin Manchester has bolstered its financial planning team management with 2 new hires. Chartered Financial PlannerJose Vilchezjoins from Mazars andRalph Dowdsjoins from Questa.

Schroders Personal Wealthare on a big recruitment drive and have recruited 16 new Associate Advisors into various offices around the country.

Mohammed Al Moutazjoins Qatar National Bankin Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as Senior Treasury Dealer.

Sesame Bankhall Group (SBG)has appointedCraig Rossto lead the newly formed proposition team. Ross will report to SBG Chief Executive Officer Michele Golunska.

Rathbone Investment Managementhas appointedScott Lothianas its Investment Director in Edinburgh. The investment company said Lothian, who previously worked at Brooks Macdonald, brings “extensive experience” in financial services to the group.  

The recently launchedLiontrust ESG Trust (ESGT)has confirmed its full board of Directors and published its Prospectus, which includes a timetable for shareholders. The board will consist of ChairRichard Laing, Chair of the Audit and Risk CommitteeSarah Ing, Non-Executive DirectorClare Brook, and Non-Executive DirectorKunle Olafare.

Ignition Advice UK, the technology firm working with M&G to develop a “hybrid digital advice offering” for the Wealth Manager, has appointed former FNZ Chief ExecutivePaul McMahonas Non-Executive Director. McMahon has more than 35 years financial services industry experience in the UK and Europe including in Non-Executive Director roles.

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