Companies  

Advisers clash with Bellpenny over ‘acquisitions cock-up’

A team of self-employed financial advisers is locked in a bitter row following the latest acquisition by Bellpenny that appears to have gone disastrously wrong, it is claimed.

Bellpenny is currently believed to be negotiations with the team over allegations of how the sale of Essex-based Hansen Lloyd Asset Management was handled and the ownership of clients.

Charles Rickards, one of the former advisers at Essex-based Hansen Lloyd Asset Management, has claimed that a number of his former colleagues plan to leave the firm following the deal, announced on 12 May.

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Mr Rickards alleged the advisers were not consulted about the sale, Bellpenny’s 18th to date, by Hansen Lloyd’s founder and managing director, Colin Linscott, and that they had been given “no choice” but to leave if they wished to remain independent.

He said: “There were no discussions about how the client handover would be structured and Hansen Lloyd has kept communications with us to a minimum. I believe that the likely outcome regarding client ownership was not presented as it should have been to Bellpenny.

“The issue is that Hansen Lloyd Asset Management appears to have said that clients belonged to Hansen rather than us. Ultimately, our clients choose who they deal with and if we move to a different company, they move with us. We get to know these people over many years and understand their situations, researching the best solutions to fit their needs.“

The acquisition will add approximately £75m to Bellpenny’s assets under management as well as 1000 clients.

In a statement issued at the time of the sale, Mr Linscott said: “Having made the decision to retire, my two main priorities were straightforward: to achieve a fair price for the business and to ensure that I would be leaving my clients, many of whom have become personal friends, in the most capable and professional of hands.”

Ned Cazalet, founder of consultancy Ned Cazalet Consulting, said: “This is the question of what the individual adviser contractual arrangements are, which will differ from firm to firm.

“When it comes to self-employed advisers, one can see why there is plentiful scope for problems when assessing who the clients belong to.

“It is frightening that some of the exact details regarding clients were not nailed down before the deal was agreed.”

A spokesman for Bellpenny said: “We expected to receive a full list of clients owned by Hansen Lloyd Asset Management that would transfer to Bellpenny under the terms of the deal.

“However, the data wrongly included clients and assets that were attached to self-employed advisers at the firm. We have been working with them to ensure certain clients are not included in the deal.

“Bellpenny puts a lot of time and effort into talking to the seller about what should happen. Vendors must ensure that advisers are on board or, if they wish to move on, that they have advance information about what the acquisition involves.”