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Irish advice firm aims to be largest in Northern Ireland

Irish advice firm aims to be largest in Northern Ireland

Davy Private Clients, the Republic of Ireland’s largest wealth manager and stockbroker, is aiming to be the largest adviser firm in Northern Ireland by the end of 2016, following its latest acquisition.

Davy Private Clients has already built up around £13bn in private client managed assets and having become dominant in the Eire, has been expanding north of the border for the last few years.

Up until 2013, the firm had a relatively small presence, with £120m of assets and six staff.

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This has grown in the last two and a half years to £760m in assets, 30 staff and more than 2,000 clients.

Its acquisition of Northern Irish wealth manager Graham Corry Cheevers was announced in May and is due to complete in the fourth quarter, bringing £310m in assets and pushing Davy to be come the second largest wealth manager in the country.

Stephen Felle, chief executive of Davy Private Clients UK, told FTAdviser the firm’s acquisition strategy should make it the largest in Northern Ireland by the end of next year, something which is likely to be a springboard for moving into the mainland UK’s advice market.

“Until recently, our presence in the UK has been extremely limited and wholly confined to an office in Belfast.

“While there will be growth opportunities in the Republic of Ireland wealth market as the Irish economy recovers, it will be at a lower rate than we could achieve on a relative basis in the UK.

He added that Great Britain, in particular London, holds interest for Davy Private Clients on a medium-term basis.

“Our sister division within the group, Davy Capital Markets, has had an office and presence in London for over five years.

“Economic and cultural ties between the two countries are stronger than ever, and having developed a UK-centric operational and regulatory infrastructure out of Belfast, it would be a natural next step for Davy Private Clients.”

In December, the firm appointed ex-Towry chief executive Andrew Fisher to its advisory board in order to help grow the business across the UK, something which Mr Felle said would help identify potential acquisition opportunities.

“We’re in no rush though and the board’s concern is that adviser firm valuations are a bit toppy over here [in the mainland UK] at the moment.

“So we’re conservative about deploying capital, but when we’re ready there’s cash on the balance sheet and independence to move, following a management buyout from the Bank of Ireland a few years ago.”

peter.walker@ft.com