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WH Ireland’s Buchanan on ‘drawing a line under the past’

WH Ireland’s Buchanan on ‘drawing a line under the past’

It has been an eventful two years for WH Ireland: being fined £1.2 million by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), restructuring its back office and outsourcing its custody and administration functions.

The firm’s head of wealth management, Roddy Buchanan, who was profiled in Wealth Manager back in March 2015, says the company is now back on the growth track, with assets under management (AUM) having risen steadily in the intervening period from £2.7 billion to more than £3.1 billion now.

In its results for the six months to the end of May 2017, published this morning, the group's total revenue rose 24% from £11.96 million to £14.87 million year-on-year.

It helped push the firm to a £76,000 operating loss, compared to £1.66 million in the same period in 2016 as the company's restructure appeared to be bearing fruit.

Here Buchanan (pictured) talks us through the twists and turns at WH Ireland since he featured on the magazine’s cover.

How has the business changed?

‘The principal focus of change – and it has been root and branch from the top down – has been to take a lot of risk out of the business. The business has contracted in terms of offices and headcount, but at the same time we have grown our assets, particularly our discretionary assets.

‘We also recently outsourced our custody and administration functions to SEI to help us develop a more robust, efficient and scalable platform. [The changes] are very much geared towards putting the firm on a strong foundation to focus on the next phase, which is growth.’

What have been the most important milestones for WH Ireland?

‘In addition to the above, the FCA fine we incurred [for past systems failings] in a sense was a milestone, on the basis of the fact that it was a legacy issue we had to deal with. It was hugely time-consuming and it was very important we dealt with it in the right way. It is, in effect, drawing a line under the past and also signalling the change in WH Ireland, as we move forward.’

What are your plans for growth?

‘Really there are three levers of growth. Firstly through organic growth, secondly through acquisitions of teams and individuals who want to join us, and thirdly through outright corporate acquisitions.’

What are the most pressing issues affecting the industry?

‘The most pressing issue undoubtedly is dealing with the huge amount of new regulation which is looming down the tracks. There’s also that age old thing of attracting new entrants into the industry. It always has been a challenge, given the changes in the regulatory landscape and also in technology, as well as the constantly changing consumer needs and behaviours.’ 

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