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Walker Crips’ Fitzgerald: Why we are looking at regional expansion
by Elsa Buchanan on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:42
Walker Crips chief executive Rodney Fitzgerald is already looking to expand the firm's regional footprint and take advantage of rivals closing branches after opening its first Scottish office in Inverness earlier this year.
FitzGerald (pictured) told Wealth Manager: ‘Opportunities are arising because of our rivals. They are all consolidating, shrinking businesses whereas with us, because we are smaller, we are taking advantage of our position. We have been able to pick up branches and businesses from them as well.’
In September, Wealth Manager exclusively revealed that Brewin Dolphin had closed a further three offices, with its Inverness, Hereford and Teesside hubs being merged away.
Additionally, FitzGerald points to ‘a few stockbrokers that have gone into administration’, which he says has enabled the group to open offices in Bristol, the Lake District, Birmingham, Norwich, and Northampton.
‘We’re not looking for saturation coverage, which is where Brewin Dolphin and Charles Stanley have been and have now re-trenched from. We’ve identified pockets of wealth and we’re satisfied with having one office covering each of them.’
The office in Inverness is currently staffed by 4 people, but FitzGerald hinted he would consider hiring external teams to further expand it. He said: ‘Put it this way, we are always looking for new teams.’
He added: ‘Our balance sheet is now the strongest it has ever been, and we now have the resources to deploy and expand core businesses, and discretionary advisory management and wealth management is where it is all at for us.’
The expansionary plans follow a period of strong performance in its traditional stockbroking business, which powered a 36% jump in revenue in the second quarter.
In the last 12 months, the group has also re-built its core business, selling its Walker Crips Asset Managers (WCAM) subsidiary to Liontrust for £11.7 million before disposing of its corporate finance business.
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