Bellpenny targets larger advice firms in acquisition rethink

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Adviser consolidator Bellpenny is to shift its focus to fewer, larger deals as it eyes a stock market listing.

New chief executive Nigel Stockton, who takes charge of the firm today after leaving Countrywide, says smaller deals take as much work as larger acquisitions.

He says: “We’ve now done 30 in the first three years of our existence, that’s a lot of work. It’s fair to say next year we’re looking at fewer but larger acquisitions, currently we’re doing about one a month.

“Smaller acquisitions take exactly the same amount of due diligence, the same amount of legal work.”

Stockton says there will be more consolidation in the advice market, and notes the launch of Standard Life’s new consolidator 1825.

He says: “If you look at the mortgage industry where I’ve just come from, six distributors now do 80 to 90 per cent of the total distribution. I don’t think we’re going to get to that in a hurry in the pensions and investments side of things, but you can gauge from that there will be more consolidation over the coming years.”

He adds that he would “love” to eventually float the business but will not put a timescale on the plans.

He says: “The Countrywide IPO in 2013 taught me a lot. It taught me to build a business in a sustainable way – operationally strong with happy clients – and the future will look after itself.

“I would love to float the business, but the key for the next few years is to build a sustainable business that is scalable and, above all else, that our clients are getting great financial advice.”

Stockton, who has been a Bellpenny director since it was founded, took over as chief executive from Kevin Ronaldson, who becomes founder director.

Prior to Countrywide, Stockton was mortgages sales director at Lloyds and managing director of Birmingham Midshires.

Bellpenny now employs around 70 advisers nationwide.