Ascot Lloyd Bellpenny chief executive Nigel Stockton is clear the combined business remains acquisitive and is in the market for bigger but fewer deals.
Ascot Lloyd and Bellpenny completed a merger deal on 1 July, creating a combined company that has more than 100 advisers, more than 40,000 clients and £6bn assets under advice.
In 2015, Bellpenny announced it was going to focus on fewer, larger deals, after completing 30 acquisitions in its first three years of operation.
Stockton says the scale of the combined Ascot Lloyd Bellpenny business means it has got “choices” with which part of the market it might target.
He says: “We are still looking to make acquisitions in the coming months and years. My own view of mergers and acquisitions in this space and in this market is that there is still a long way to go before they settle down. We still are in the market for bigger and fewer acquisitions.”
Stockton adds: “We will look at the right acquisitions in the next few months. There are choices now. We could do smaller transactions and infill where our national advice network isn’t as strong as it is. Or we could choose to consolidate. It gives us choices.”
The merger brings together the independent brands of Ascot Lloyd and BIA Financial Planning – Bellpenny’s independent advice business that launched in January – and the restricted Bellpenny business.
Stockton says the independent or restricted status of the advisers will not change after the merger.
He says: “There will be no difference to the advisers or clients and that is the key message.”
Stockton did not rule out the merged firm rebranding to just Ascot Lloyd or Bellpenny in the future happening in the future.
He says: “For now, Bellpenny stays as Bellpenny, Ascot Lloyd stays as Ascot Lloyd, and BIA stays as BIA. Is that going to be true forever in the future? Maybe, maybe not. We will think about things in the coming months.”
Stockton adds: “The first thing is, always, making sure our clients and the advisers who look after the clients are happy and have the appropriate investment solutions to enable them to give the best advice they possibly can.”
Asked if the merger would result in job losses or office closures, Stockton says: “We are not going to rush into these things but one of the reasons for the transaction taking place is bringing them together presents an opportunity for cost and revenue synergies.”
He adds: “We have got exciting growth potential – organic and acquisitions – of the combined business but we have also got opportunities to look at the head office functions and back office functions and make sure that they are the most efficient.”