Firing line  

New Kingswood boss outlines future acquisitions

He says: “The work I did with SPW gave me the confidence to believe I could be a chief executive, and that I wanted to be a chief executive, which previously I had not really thought was something I would do.

"I had the experience of working in Lloyds, of being quite senior in a very big machine; to then being part of a small team at SPW – it was a new experience and very beneficial."

He adds: "For something like due diligence I am very glad we have experts who can do that. Integrating clients is something that I can help with, the experience of integrating 40,000 clients into SPW is something that is standing me in good stead now.” 

There are four stages to integrating businesses into Kingswood, from pre-completion to fully integrated, but Lawrence says it is an approach that is also tailored to suit different companies, and says the experience of buying and integrating larger companies has helped to refine this process. 

One area where Kingswood is differentiated from rivals is in its purchase of US advice businesses. 

Lawrence says the rationale for investing in the US market is the same as for the UK, with the advice industry dominated by thousands of small companies. 

He says the US operation is much closer to what in the UK would be called a network of advice companies, rather than a vertically integrated business, as Kingswood is in the UK. 

The chief executive says that consolidation will ultimately benefit clients as it will drive costs down. 

When it comes to the financials, the target is to achieve £20m of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation by the end of 2022, and to achieve this Lawrence says “aggressive adoption of technology and digitisation is one of the major items on his to-do list for the year ahead".

While happy to describe Kingswood as a vertically integrated company, focused on both the US and UK, he says he will not push Kingswood into other areas of the market, such as platforms.   

He says: “I think the areas we can win at are advice and investment management, so we will keep focusing on those areas, and then negotiate with the providers of other services in order to achieve good margins.

"Most of the acquiring we do will be advice firms, but we would also consider buying investment management first if they came up.

"One part of my job is identifying firms that I think would be a good cultural fit; that can be quite time-consuming and starts quite a while before the deal is done, but it is what we focus on.”