Close Brothers eyes up advice expansion after Eos buyout

Close Brothers eyes up advice expansion after Eos buyout

Close Brothers Asset Management plans to grow its advice business “aggressively” after sealing a deal to buy Eos Wealth Management.

Andy Cumming, head of advice at Close Brothers, said the company had been inactive in recent months because of the competitive nature of the market.

The deal, announced on 6 June, was the first in over a year. It bought Edinburgh-based chartered financial planning firm Mackay Stewart & Brown for an undisclosed sum in April 2015.

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Mr Cumming said: “Even though we have been relatively inactive in the last year, we are constantly looking for opportunities.

“We are in discussions with a couple of other firms. We hope some of those conversations will be successful and there will be a drip-feed of Close Brothers acquisitions. In some situations we have been out-bid – it is a competitive marketplace.

“We have got desires to grow quite aggressively, but we don’t have any pressure to grow or reach any particular amount of assets under management - we are discerning and will pick up quality acquisitions.”

Eos advises on more than £300m of client assets and specialises in servicing high net-worth clients, particularly in the media and sports industries. As part of the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, all 28 Eos employees will join Close Brothers.

Mr Cumming said Close Brothers was also interested in robo-advice, but did not say when it would launch anything.

“It is something we have taken a watching brief over. I would say it is very much in our sights as an area of development, and we will be looking at going into it.

“We won’t be rushing into it. We want to see what delivers the best outcomes for clients and what fits within the hierarchy of our proposition.”

Adviser view

David Penney, director at London-based Penney, Ruddy & Winter, said: “Consolidation is unlikely to be a good thing for clients. That’s my view.

“Controlling hundreds of advisers does not result in the same level of bespoke individual advice that we can deliver in my opinion.”

Victor Sacks, owner of Brampton-based firm VS Associates, said he had “no appetite to purchase anyone else”, and he “doesn’t fear” the growth of larger firms such as Close Brothers and Standard Life’s advice arm 1825.

“In Cambridgeshire there is plenty of business to go around. I’m not phased by who buys who. There is always plenty of space for someone who wants to be the go-to-adviser in their local area.”