Bellpenny pushes £3bn in assets after £300m IFA deal

National wealth manager Bellpenny has acquired Essex-based financial adviser Unizone Ltd, bringing in more than 2000 active clients and £330m of funds under management.

Bellpenny’s 23rd acquisition will see Unizone’s financial planners and more than 20 support staff join the firm.

Unizone’s existing office in Coggeshall will be retained under the Bellpenny brand, becoming a third regional hub, alongside those in the Midlands and Glasgow.

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In September Bellpenny bought Glasgow-based Reid, Scott and Ross, bringing in £108m of funds under management.

The latest deal edges the national even closer to £3bn in funds under management, after the August acquisition of Skipton Building Society wealth management unit Torquil Clark, brought in around £900m of client assets, boosting the total to more than £2.5bn.

Kevin Ronaldson, chief executive at Bellpenny, said that it was no coincidence that some of the largest deals have been completed within the last few months.

“In the immediate aftermath of the RDR it seemed mainly to be smaller firms considering their exit options. However we’ve recently seen a surge in interest from owners of larger businesses looking to de-risk and release capital.”

Dominic Rose, acquisitions director at the firm, said that a recurrent theme in recent discussions with IFA owners is the inexorable downward pressure on profit margins. “One effect of this is that they’re having very carefully to reassess the cost of advice, which means it’s inevitable that some clients will be priced out of the market.

“Economies of scale mean larger firms are able to give more clients access to financial planning expertise, whether face-to-face, over the phone or online.”

Neil Donnelly, managing director of Unizone, explained that he and the firm’s directors concluded that the time was right to join forces with a much larger wealth management organisation.

“We’re confident that being part of Bellpenny will be to the long-term benefit of clients and staff alike,” he added.