NucleusSep 7 2021

Ferguson and Neilson exit Nucleus after James Hay takeover

Search supported by
Ferguson and Neilson exit Nucleus after James Hay takeover
David Ferguson, CEO at Nucleus

Nucleus chief executive officer David Ferguson has left the platform following its takeover by James Hay. 

According to an update today (September 7), Ferguson has stepped down from the board with immediate effect, with his responsibilities taken on by James Hay group CEO Richard Rowney. 

Rowney joined the board earlier this month and will now assume day-to-day responsibility for the leadership of the enlarged group, comprising both Nucleus and James Hay. 

Ferguson, who has been leading Nucleus since it was founded in 2005, said: “It’s 23 years since we started work on a collection of ideas that eventually led to the near £20bn platform that Nucleus is today. We aimed to create something that was truly collaborative, and it was my privilege to do this with some of the most talented people in the industry. 

“I hope we’ve been able to make a contribution towards the positive changes in the profession over the years, and with the company now becoming a key part of a much bigger picture with James Hay, it feels like the right time for me to move on and consider a new challenge.”

The board change comes as last month, the Financial Conduct Authority gave the green light to James Hay's acquisition of Nucleus for £145m

James Hay first announced its intention to buy Nucleus in February. At the time, staff were also told that job losses at Nucleus could loom, with talk of "moderate" job losses in the aftermath of the deal. 

Meanwhile, in today’s update, the companies said the Nucleus name had been chosen to be used for the group’s combined future platform for advisers.  

It said a new visual style to support this decision will be implemented in line with the group’s development plans, when finalised.

The Nucleus and James Hay platforms will continue to operate independently for the foreseeable future while integration plans are developed and there is no current change to the operations or services of either.

It said a strategic review will help inform the creation of a financial planning and retirement-focused adviser platform which will include a range of tax wrappers, including a self-invested personal pension with enhanced drawdown capability. 

Senior leadership changes

Elsewhere, senior leadership changes included the exit of Nucleus chief customer officer Barry Neilson after 11 years at the firm.

His role will be taken over by Alex Kovach who joined James Hay from Interactive Investor last year where he led the commercial strategy, including pricing, brand and driving organic growth during a period where AUA grew from £3bn to £40bn. 

His current distribution, marketing and product development responsibilities will extend to include the whole group, including those areas previously covered by Neilson.

Richard Warner, who is chief operating officer and joined James Hay in November 2020, will become group COO of the combined group, while Alison Longbottom, who joined James Hay in October 2020, has been confirmed as chief people officer for the combined group. 

Rowney said: “We remain very excited by the combination of these two great businesses and are fully focused on taking the best of both firms forward as we create the leading retirement-focused adviser platform. 

“The skills and talent within these organisations, combined with the significant scale of our combined group will enable greater investment in products, price and service, and ultimately meet the developing needs of advisers and their clients.  

These appointments to the leadership team are to take effect immediately. The companies said this will help ensure that while there is no change for the customers of either James Hay or Nucleus, the enlarged group is taking a collective approach.

Other executive roles are still being considered and will be announced in due course.

What do you think about the issues raised by this story? Email us on to let us know