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Does Stocktrade MD mystery mean Brewin set to sell?

Does Stocktrade MD mystery mean Brewin set to sell?

The managing director of Brewin Dolphin’s execution-only platform Stocktrade has become inactive on the FCA register after more than 13 years. This has fuelled speculation that he is no longer running the business day-to-day and that there is an internal battle over the future of the business.

Matthew Collis had been listed as active on the FCA register for an unbroken run of over 13 years. He became inactive on 18 July. An FCA spokesman said that a person would be deemed inactive on the register if they are no longer performing a controlled function. A ‘controlled function’ entails carrying out a regulated activity by a firm, exercising a position of significant influence or dealing with customers.

There is no suggestion that Collis has done anything wrong.

Brewin Dolphin declined to comment on why Collis is inactive on the FCA register, but said he is still employed by the firm.

The Stocktrade platform is now powered by Figaro software - a different system to the one used by the  core private client business. Sources close to the situation say it is not viable over the longer term to run the two businesses on different systems.

Back in May, Brewin decided to ditch a multi-year project to implement Figaro across the private client division, which resulted in a £32 million writedown with an additional £15 million in fees owed to be paid over the next 10 years.

An altogether different course could also lie ahead for Stocktrade. Stephen Ford, Brewin's head of investment management, has spoken about his ambitions to build a ‘compelling direct-to-consumer offering’ to help counter the advice gap. This could have Stocktrade as its core, with added functionality provided by other third parties. However, the business would need to overcome the challenge of running the two systems concurrently – namely Figaro on Stocktrade, alongside Fiscal and Eximius, which power the private client division.

At the end of June, Brewin, led by David Nicol (pictured) had £7.4 billion in execution-only assets, up 10% since September of last year, although flat quarter-on-quarter. The company provides share dealing services to a number of large corporate clients, such as Yorkshire Building Society, and this is understood to form the bulk of the assets on the platform.

Stocktrade has also become a home for some of Brewin’s sub-£50,000 clients after the firm withdrew advisory services to this segment. Over the nine months to the end of June, £600 million transferred over from other internal services, in particular advisory dealing.

Stocktrade divisional directors Graham Swan or Nicholas Pearson could be well-positioned to take over as managing director if Collis ultimately exits the firm.

Collis has been managing director of Stocktrade since July 2010 but has been at Brewins since 2001 in a number of roles that include head of trading, according to Linkedin. He reports into Stephen Ford, who is the board director responsible for Stocktrade.

Brewin declined to comment on whether Stocktrade is up for sale.

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