UK wealth manager acquires Yorkshire-based advice firm

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Leodis Wealth has bought Scarborough-based Yorkshire Premier Financial Services (YPFS) for an undisclosed sum, International Adviser can reveal.

YPFS has 350 clients with around £70m ($96.7m, €82.2m) of assets under management.

Leodis Wealth plans to move the company out of Scarborough and to York.

Steve Rudd, director at YPFS, will stay with the business until his retirement.

Assessed options

Simon Cocking, chief executive of Leodis Wealth, told IA that the plan to acquire was “hatched a couple of years ago”.

“We’ve courted a number of different businesses across that period, some of which we got some way down the line before actually finding it’s not the fit we thought it was going to be,” he said. “We’ve probably looked at four or five different businesses during that period.

“YPFS will move into the York office, and hopefully in the coming months it will be joined by another firm who were interested in joining us as well. That would bring us another £80m, three advisers, as well as admin staff.

“The grand plan is they will all be supported from the Leeds unit, and ultimately the outlying offices will be adviser offices.

“York was chosen because it’s affluent area that’s really under-advised. There’s not many advisers per head of population, and it’s a good target market.

“The business that we are in negotiations with gets people walking in off the street because there isn’t that many people.

“We’re a Yorkshire firm. We don’t want to be the biggest regional adviser, we aim to be one of the best, with proposition that is truly focused around value for money. I’m sure it is what everybody says, but it’s not what’s delivered.”

Proposition

Leodis Wealth has a financial planning arm and an investment management operation.

The firm believes it is doing M&A “slightly different”.

Cocking said: “I don’t see the consolidator model that we see out there as being necessarily the right way forward. I think people staying around and helping to integrate their client banks and help run the businesses is the way forward. And that way you keep the clients.

“It’s all about creating the correct offering proposition for clients.

“My background has been as a financial planner in IFA firms for 30 odd years. I joined Leodis at end of 2012, and it was a total change of direction for me because it was an asset management business.

“But what I wanted to do was deliver a competitive financial planning offering. For various reasons, I was brought in to do something, and then was restrained from doing it.

“There’s been a lot of shifts in management and we’ve had to focus on the financial planning side, and continue to bolster the asset management side.

“But what it does give us having the asset management side, which most financial planning businesses don’t have, is real internal investment expertise. It’s not a phone call away, they’re sitting opposite and that really helps. We can build a lot of our investment propositions around that.”

Interest in the firm

M&A consultancy firm City and Capital has helped Leodis Wealth with its growth ambitions.

Victoria Hicks, director at City and Capital, told IA: “What I’m very aware of is that for a lot of the firms I speak to, I may be the first impression that they have of Leodis Wealth. They may have never come across them before.

“It’s a very personal firm. It’s a small firm in terms of numbers of people. You’ve got to get that cultural fit and alignment right.

“A couple of deals have been Simon’s to turn down. That’s sort of a really reassuring thing, because it’s part of our reputation as well to make sure that when we are representing vendors, or we’re helping people to find the right exit, I want to know that they’re going to enjoy the last few years of their careers and that their clients are going to be looked after to.

“There’s lots of opportunity for Leodis not just in terms of organic growth through bringing on new clients, but also through opportunities to acquire other businesses.

“Leodis is an incredibly clean business, there’s nothing high risk that sits within the business and that’s sort of a firm objective that we keep when we are looking at individuals to come on board or when we are looking acquisitions.”

Cocking added that Leodis plans to make “one or two” deals over “the course of the next couple of years”.

“I don’t think there’s plans for national growth,” he added. “I think we need concentrate on the Yorkshire region.”