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WH Ireland tight-lipped amid talk Compton quit in boardroom bust-up

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WH Ireland tight-lipped amid talk Compton quit in boardroom bust-up

A trading update from WH Ireland today offered little insight as to why chief executive Paul Compton quit the firm amid talk a row over his personal share dealings led to his sudden departure.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange yesterday, the private client stockbroker stunned the market with news Compton (pictured) was leaving the firm with 'immediate effect' just two years into his tenure.

The news sparked a plunge in the firm's value, with shares falling from 72.5p to close at 56p, a loss of 25%.

According to the Times, Compton left after a disagreement with the board over his share dealings and is believed to have sold around 66% of his stake in the firm shortly after his departure.

Today's trading update showed Compton had left the WH Ireland in decent shape but offered no mention of its former chief executive.

The firm said in the year to 30 November 2012 group revenue increased to £25 million, resulting in a significant improvement in the underlying trading performance.

'The group achieved a good balance between investing in the business and a continued focus on the cost base, and further strengthened the balance sheet with an improved net cash position at the year end compared to the prior year,'  WH Ireland said in an accompanying statement.

Within this it said wealth management had 'considerably' strengthened its offering through the acquisition of the client list of Pritchard Stockbrokers and the resulting expansion of its regional office network.

It said the majority of former Pritchard clients had successfully migrated to the group, helping assets under management or influence have exceeded £1.6 billion.

WH Ireland chairman Rupert Lowe told the market: 'The group has made good progress in 2012. While underlying markets remain challenging, momentum with corporate client wins, an increasing pipeline of corporate finance work and a reinvigorated strategy within the private wealth management business, enable us to look to 2013 with cautious optimism.'

In an exclusive interview with Wealth Manager earlier this year, Compton outlined his vision for the firm in which he set a £5 billion target for assets under management.  

'We are almost too small,’ Compton said at the time. ‘I think we need to at least double the wealth management side to get to the scale where we can cope with all the compliance and all the regulation.’

The task of implementing this strategy has been passed on to wealth head Richard Killingbeck, who will become chief executive of WH Ireland subject to FSA approval.  

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