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Heartwood’s Lough: why I sold to Handelsbanken

Heartwood’s Lough: why I sold to Handelsbanken

Heartwood is set to go on a hiring spree to power its regional expansion following its takeover by Swedish bank Handelsbanken.

Handelsbanken acquired Heartwood for an undisclosed sum and, subject to regulatory approval, the deal will see Heartwood provide wealth management services for the bank throughout its 147-strong UK branch network.

Heartwood chief executive Simon Lough (pictured) said the wealth management business, which will become a subsidiary of Handelsbanken after it takes 100% ownership of it, would retain its brand for now but a full rebrand has not been ruled out.

‘At the moment we will stick with Heartwood because we think it is well known to clients and a trusted brand, but moving forward I am full of admiration for the Handelsbanken brand, which has developed not through flashy marketing, but through recommendations,’ he said.

‘If at some stage we feel it is right for the business to adopt the brand we will, but we are not going to do this over the next few months.’

Although the firm declined to provide further detail about lock-ins or equity stakes among staff, Lough noted ‘key staff are all behind it and support the deal’ and said the news had received a positive reaction from clients.

Handelsbanken’s UK chief executive Anders Bouvin added he had received feedback from the bank’s branch managers that the deal is ‘exactly the fit that Handelsbanken needed’ to fulfil growing demand for wealth management services among its fast expanding UK client base.

On the deal and the opportunities it presents, Lough said: ‘I don’t think this signals the death of the boutique. If we hadn’t done the deal with Handelsbanken, the next option would be to stay as we were, but I think the better opportunity for us is as part of the Handelsbanken family.

‘Everyone knows that wealth creation is limited at the moment and I don’t see that changing. Heartwood will stay independent within Handelsbanken, everyone will report to me and people in the business are not worried about it losing its character.’

Heartwood’s investment and planning proposition, and charging structure will not change as a result of the deal, although the team will now be able to offer private banking services to clients. The boutique is also set for regional expansion, based on demand from Handelsbanken’s decentralised branch network.

‘There is a very exciting opportunity now to grow Heartwood’s capability across the UK,’ Bouvin said. Linked to this, Lough anticipates a raft of hires will follow, particularly in client-facing and financial planning roles.

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