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Independent wealth management firm acquires six businesses

Succession Wealth has acquired six financial advisory businesses from around the United Kingdom.

Together, the deals add up to £800m in assets under management, bringing Succession’s total AUM to more than £8bn.

As a result of the six new acquisitions, a further 2,100 clients will join Succession Wealth, as well as 16 qualified and experienced Financial Planners.

In April, Succession Wealth announced it had secured over £100m of additional financing facilities through its existing financing arrangements, to fund an intensive acquisition plan and accelerate its national growth and presence.

As a result 55 firms have now joined Succession since 2014 – an average of one acquisition per month.

The latest six acquired companies are:

  • Mackenzie Investment Strategies, Inverness
  • Winter Financial Services, Marlow
  • Warwick Butchart Associates, Cheltenham
  • Killermont Investments, Glasgow
  • Additional Glasgow business acquired subject to FCA Change of Control approval
  • Ellaby Pollard, Bristol

James Stevenson, CEO, Succession Wealth, said: “We are delighted to welcome the proprietors and staff of these outstanding businesses on board.

“We share common values and a relentless drive to achieve excellence for our clients.

“We look forward to these acquisitions continuing to drive the growth and development of our national business.

“Since the launch of our advisory business just five years ago and the acquisitions we have completed, Succession Wealth is now in a very strong position to continue to deliver sustainable growth and become the UK’s foremost professional financial planning practice.

“The most sustainable companies prioritise their relationships with their clients and stakeholders, and our aim is to ensure everyone who is interested in benefiting from full Financial Planning and wealth management has ready access to the best possible advice.

“These latest acquisitions extend our national coverage, creating new regional offices in Inverness and Bristol and considerably strengthening our already significant presence in Glasgow and the Thames Valley.”

Duncan Mackenzie, founder of Chartered Financial Planning firm, Mackenzie Investment Strategies, said: “Succession has invested heavily in Scotland and, for us, it was essential for our clients and staff to join an established, reputable company that would allow us to foster the same level of trust and provide the same quality of service upon which we had based our reputation.”

Bristol based financial advisory firm, Ellaby Pollard’s managing director, Andy Barr, said: “Our clients will continue to receive high quality financial planning advice but will also enjoy enhanced services and an improved proposition as a result of us becoming part of a larger, national organisation.”

Mr Stevenson added: “Succession has a proven and extraordinarily successful acquisition model.

“Testament to this are the 55 highly respected Financial Planning businesses which have come on board in the last five years, as well as the pipeline of high quality, scaled IFA businesses with whom we are working towards acquiring through the year.

“We take pride in the fact that so many of our people – particularly our former business owners – remain with us.

“This ensures that our clients receive continuity of service from a local business delivered nationally.”

EY appoints Ally Scott as managing partner of Scottish operations

EY has for the first time appointed someone who is not a chartered accountant to head its Scottish operation, and flagged major hiring plans.

Ally Scott, who joined the accountancy firm’s Scottish operation from banking giant Barclays in autumn 2016 as head of transaction advisory services, will succeed Mark Harvey as EY’s managing partner for Scotland on July 1. Mr Harvey will remain a partner of EY until next April, before joining car retailing giant Arnold Clark as chief financial officer in the summer of 2020.

A spokeswoman for EY confirmed that Mr Scott would be the first leader of the Scottish business who was not a chartered accountant.

EY highlighted its ambitions to increase its current Scottish workforce of about 1,000 by 25 per cent over the next 12 months.

The spokeswoman said: “We are going to be recruiting at all levels of seniority but also across all service lines. It is in all geographies as well. It is across the office network.”

EY has offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen.

The accountancy firm noted Mr Scott had led the firm’s Scottish transaction advisory services practice to 15% and 21% growth in its last two financial years, “helping secure deals for prominent Scottish clients such as Simon Howie Group, QTS Group and Weir Group”.

EY noted Mr Harvey had, since taking on the Scotland managing partner role in 2015, raised the annual revenues of the accountancy firm’s Scottish business from about £100 million to £170m.

Mr Scott, who joined Royal Bank of Scotland as a 16-year-old trainee and worked for the Edinburgh-based institution from 1985 to 2005 before joining Barclays, said: “It’s a real honour to take up the role of managing partner. Under Mark’s leadership, EY has enjoyed significant growth in Scotland, securing notable client wins across all service lines and investing in our product offering to support a broader range of businesses.”

He added: “Our ambition to increase headcount to 1,250 staff across all levels in the next 12 months is a strong signal of our intent to build on that momentum. It’s an exciting time to be part of our business. Our continued investment in technology and automation has resulted in our Edinburgh office becoming EY’s UK centre of excellence in data analytics and provides our clients with an exceptional level of strategic insight and clarity in decision-making.”

The EY spokeswoman noted some of the new jobs would be in the data analytics, automation and digital area, but emphasised hiring would be broadly based, citing a ramping up of activity across assurance, advisory and tax operations.

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Morton Fraser chalks up 60% revenue growth over last five years

INDEPENDENT law firm Morton Fraser has chalked up revenue growth of nine per cent, topping the £20 million mark for annual billings for the first time in its history (£21.7m). It also saw profits soar 13% in the year to April 30, 2018, with revenue having grown 60% over the last five years.

The Scottish firm, which employs over 270 staff, attributed its growth to its investment in people. And it declared its strong commercial performance would result in another increase to Morton Fraser’s performance-related bonus scheme, which will reward all staff with up to 13% of their annual salary.

Chris Harte, chief executive, said that the quality of the team at Morton Fraser was the “one consistent factor underpinning this period of growth for our business”. Mr Harte said: “We have some exceptional talent and some of the best specialist teams in the country. The roster of truly independent Scottish firms is dwindling, and our focus on talent is setting us apart.”

Performance highlights included a “fantastic year” for the firm’s commercial real estate division, boosted by a strong performance in London. It also advised Rockspring on the purchase of 9-10 St Andrew Square in Edinburgh and BAM Properties on its role in the city’s largest speculative office development at Capital Square.

Morton Fraser’s corporate team played an integral part in Quattro Group’s multi-million-pound acquisition of Scotland’s big gest privately-owned plant hire operator, AB2000.

Mr Harte said that the firm, which merged with Macdonalds five years ago and has offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow, continued to work with longstanding clients including Diageo for which Morton Fraser is lead legal adviser for the global drinks giant’s commercial real estate work in the UK.

It also saw an increase in its international work, with a growing number of referrals through the global network Interlaw.

“It would be wrong to assume that a proudly independent firm in Scotland can only do business in Scotland,” Mr Harte said.

“Our connections and reputation extend not only into the City of London, but also internationally.

“We help overseas clients to assess their options here and also support domestic clients in other jurisdictions too,” he added. “We are the only Scottish firm in the Interlaw network but you still need a reputation for excellence to succeed internationally.”

The firm, said Mr Harte, had spent the last five years “getting into the right shape and investing in people”, and has increased its headcount by 30%. “That has been the bedrock of success for us,” he said. “A lot of people have been working really hard to get us to this stage and it is still about trying to retain and attract the right people.

“As we become more successful it makes it easier for us to have conversations with people we think might be interested in working for us and we have had people choose to relocate to Scotland rather than move to another firm in London, for example.”

There was also an increase in profits and turnover for international law firm Pinsent Masons which employs 540 staff in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Its unaudited results for 2017/18 showed a 6% increase in global turnover to £450m. Fees billed rose by 10% on the previous year. In the last five years, turnover has increased by more than 40% while profit growth has jumped by 60%.

The results follow a period of investment which has included setting up a technology and financial services-focused practice in Dublin. In the last year, Pinsent Masons has added an energy and infrastructure practice in Perth to complement its Australian business in Sydney and Melbourne.

Glasgow PHOTO

Falkirk law firm opens permanent new office in Glasgow

Falkirk-based criminal law firm MTM Defence Lawyers has opened a permanent new office in Glasgow (at 2 West Regent Street) to service its growing business in the West of Scotland.

MTM has also created a new working partnership with Falkirk’s Hutchison Law. Simon Hutchison of Hutchison Law will be working alongside the MTM legal team, bringing with him the firm’s portfolio of clients.

MTM Director, Martin Morrow, said: “The new office follows on from our office in Edinburgh, which opened in 2016. As in Edinburgh, establishing the Glasgow office has been driven by local referrals – both from other legal firms without their own in-house criminal law expertise, and by private individuals charged with criminal offences and in need of expert legal help.”

Speaking of Simon’s appointment, Mr Morrow said: “Simon’s appointment to the role of consultant with MTM, and the partnership with him, adds another string to MTM’s bow as the firm continues to expand. The new partnership means that the second largest criminal defence firm in Falkirk district is coming together with the largest firm – MTM.”

Law firm Brodies reports ‘record’ revenues in 2017/18 tax year

Brodies said revenues grew by 2.4% to a “record” £66.7m in the year to 30 April, while profits before partner distributions rose by 2.6% to £31.7m.

The law firm said its results had been achieved despite political and economic uncertainty following last year’s Brexit vote.

Brodies runs offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Brussels.

It has 94 partners, more than 300 professional advisers and 217 support staff.

The firm said highlights for the year included acting as lead legal adviser to Aberdeen City Council on its landmark £370m index-linked bond issue on the London Stock Exchange.

It also acted as lead adviser to Abellio on its sale of 40% of the Greater Anglia rail franchise to global conglomerate Mitsui and Co Ltd.

‘Dramatic year’

Managing partner Bill Drummond said: “All in all, it has been a very busy and at times quite dramatic year for Brodies and our clients, which underscores our satisfaction in recording another year of enhanced business performance for the firm across a number of measures.

“Along with most of our clients – British or overseas – at Brodies we were surprised by the news, on 24 June last year, that the UK had voted to leave the EU.

“The consequences for Brexit and the economy are now having to be further digested following the UK general election result and the absence of any one party with a clear majority at Westminster.

“Against this backdrop the increase in income that we are reporting is a satisfactory outcome for the year, indeed a new high point for the firm.”

Law firm Lindsays to merge with Aitken Nairn

Law firm Lindsays has announced a merger with long-established Edinburgh solicitors Aitken Nairn.

The merger, which is due to take place on 22 January, will see Aitken Nairn partners Kenneth Stanley and Morag Yellowlees join Lindsays, along with 15 members of staff.

The merged firm will be known as Lindsays.

Lindsays operates from offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and North Berwick.

Managing partner Alasdair Cummings said: “We are delighted with this merger.

“Aitken Nairn WS has an excellent reputation, in particular in residential property and the services it offers to individuals and families.

“We look forward to welcoming Morag, Kenneth and their colleagues to our full service team.”