Chief executive Nigel Stockton recently steered the company formerly known as Bellpenny through a merger with national IFA Ascot Lloyd. The merged business has achieved turnover of £40 million and funds under management approaching £7 billion, boosted by the recent acquisition of Leeds-based Pantheon Financial. It also has 80 private client advisers plus corporate advisers and an execution-only business, TQ Invest.
This month it announced a brand change, an acquisition and a switch from restricted to independent. We asked Stockton what this would mean for Bellpenny’s restricted advisers and fund-of-fund portfolio, and how clients would be affected.
The company will now be known as just Ascot Lloyd. Why was the Bellpenny name dropped?
We felt the Ascot Lloyd brand was more professional and more well-established than Bellpenny and at that point we moved to become an IFA.
What was the rationale for taking the whole company independent?
It was clear advisers wanted to deal whole of market from a slightly broader product set.
We looked at what we wanted to do with the Bellpenny business and decided restricted advisers should become IFAs. There are very few people who have not been IFAs in our business. The implementation from the restricted to the others was relatively straightforward.
We were not worried about advisers leaving because of the restricted status and there has not been any attrition as a result.
What does this mean in practice for the company?
The Bellpenny advisers have a slightly broader product set, but the Ascot Lloyd advisers were independent already. The compliance regime changes slightly so we have to make sure all our advisers can deal with the whole-of-market proposition we subscribe to.
We have some people who have only ever been restricted before. They have been given a training plan and close help and coordination with their compliance certification.
The old Bellpenny did quite a lot of acquisitions. We dealt with quite a lot of product providers because of that, so there was not a great deal of difference.
Will there be any changes to charges for clients?
No. In terms of fees there will be no change for the client. We will make sure suitability fact-finds and risk profiles are filled in at annual review. There is no need for a separate exercise in that respect.
Does it affect Bellpenny’s model portfolio service or platform contracts?
We do not own a platform or have an interest in a platform. Within our risk-based fund-of-fund portfolio, Avellemy, we have Zurich, Aegon, Parmenion and Fidelity as our preferred partners. But we do not force our advisers to sell any product. It is client-led.
What is the timeframe for private equity parent company, Oaktree, to sell the company?
I would expect Ascot Lloyd to grow further organically and inorganically in 2018.
We have a strong acquisition pipeline. We have reached the scale where we do not have to do any more acquisitions but we have the funding to do more. We are looking at firms of different sizes where it makes strategic sense.
I am under no pressure from Oaktree to do anything. They want to continue to grow the business. They see the sector as cash generative and they like distribution. Nothing has changed.
2015–present Bellpenny/Ascot Lloyd, chief executive
2010–2015 Countrywide, financial services director
2007–2010 Lloyds Banking Group, director of intermediary mortgages
Outside the box
What is your favourite song? This Corrosion by The Sisters of Mercy
Who is your hero? Steve Jobs
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you at work? When you work in intermediary mortgages for 12 years you see some very strange sights indeed. But it is probably best if I don’t pick anything specific out!
If you weren’t doing this job what would you be doing? Practising my golf more!