Alexander Milne, 54, who ran Norland Financial in Banff, admitted embezzling over £290,000 when he appeared before Peterhead Sheriff Court.
Milne had originally pleaded not guilty to charges of embezzling over £420,000.
His lawyers had said they would produce more than 600 pieces of evidence and dozens of witnesses to give evidence in a trial that had been scheduled to last a month.
However, due to Milne’s change of plea, the court heard only a minimum of detail and the prosecution did not reveal from whom Milne had embezzled the money.
Milne made no further comment as he left court on bail before sentencing, although he did tell reporters later that his victims had mainly been companies. The embezzlement took place between January 2002 and September 2005. Milne faces up to five years in jail and a heavy fine.