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Sesame Bankhall Group chief George Higginson leaves in shake-up

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

The management shake-up also sees finance director Paul Hooper leave 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 attempting to lead a management buy out of SBG, which was put up for sale by parent company Friends Life last February. 

SBG confimed in November that the Sesame network would be ditching its independent status. It is understood the departure of Higginson will not change this strategy with more details unveiled at the group’s conference later this month. 

Cowan joined SBG in 2009 as a non-exec director and became chairman last year. He has over 40 years of experience in financial services including holding senior roles at Prudential, Scottish Amicable and National Australia Bank. 

Gazard joined the group early last year as distribution director from Lighthouse Group before becoming managing director in June. 

Cowan says: ”I am looking forward to working closely with Stephen Gazard and our strong management team as we deliver on our long-term strategy to help advisers build successful and sustainable businesses. 

“I would like to thank George and Paul for their valuable contribution to the business and we wish them well for the future.”

Higginson says: ”I am proud to have contributed to SBG’s successful transformation into a broad-based financial services group and I feel it is now the right time for me to seek a new challenge.”

Chief risk officer Julie Sadler has also resigned for personal reasons. Sadler took a step back from her role in October but continued to work on other projects within the group. Marcus Adams continues as interim chief risk officer.


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There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. The ‘Year of the Long Knives’.

    Higginson says: ”I am proud to have contributed to SBG’s successful transformation into a broad-based financial services group and I feel it is now the right time for me to “seek a new challenge.”

    “seek a new challenge.” (No choice perhaps?)
    That isn’t the statement from a man that appears to have gone willingly?

    I’m just waiting for the adviser figures to be posted by Sesame for 2014 giving an indication of where we are 12 months into RDR. Then of course they’re ditching independence so I have no doubts that will reduce the numbers further.

  2. Is this the start of The Fall of the House of Usher?

    RDR was always going to be a challenge for Networks. How do they now control cash flow? By charging direct fees – how else? Members can now see the true cost of membership. Some quick arithmetic might indicate that for the brave it is cheaper to go it alone.

    Ditching independence might have been the right thing from a Network perspective, but many of the members fondly believe they are autonomous businesses and may not take too kindly having their independence impugned.

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