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Advisers fear instability after Sesame Bankhall Group management shake-up

Chief executive George Higginson has left the business, with chairman John Cowan and managing director Stephen Gazard taking on expanded roles.

Advisers have raised concerns the recent shake-up of senior management at Sesame Bankhall Group has created instability at the network.

Sesame Bankhall announced last week chief executive George Higginson is leaving the business with chairman John Cowan and managing director Stephen Gazard taking on expanded roles. 

Finance director Paul Hooper has also left SBG with former RBS and Aviva senior executive Jim Kelly replacing him. Gazard will report to Cowan alongside wealth management head Pan Andreas and mortgage chief John Cupis. 

Higginson has been trying to lead a management buyout of SBG, which was put up for sale by parent company Friends Life last February. 

Chief risk officer Julie Saddler has also resigned for personal reasons. Marcus Adams continues as interim chief risk officer.

Sovereign IFA director Mark Hibbitt says: “If I was a Sesame appointed representative then I would be extremely worried by these developments. Instability of this kind must be a concern.”

Syndaxi Chartered Financial Planners managing director Robert Reid says: “SBG needs to focus on what it is good at, which probably ultimately means it is going to have to push back and do more of the less risky stuff like mortgages and protection. It also needs some fresh thinking, but where it is going to get that with the management team it has put in place is not clear.”

Gibson Financial Planning director David Gibson says: “This shake-up is more evidence of the difficulty networks are facing.

“If Sesame keeps pressing people to go restricted then I think it is going to be increasingly hard for advisers not to decide they are better off being directly authorised. Networks really need some new ideas if they are going to reinvent themselves.”


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  1. Interesting that not a single one of the advisers quoted ‘fearing instability’ is actually a Sesame member!

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