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View the article online at http://citywire.co.uk/wealth-manager/article/a724188

Why team buys are a thing of the past for Brewin Dolphin

by Danielle Levy on Dec 12, 2013 at 11:20

‘I feel uncomfortable with some of the issues that team acquisitions can cause. We have got a great set of people and are always interested in talented people joining us,’ he said.

‘The challenge I would put out to the rest of the industry is why are we buying assets off each other? We have had to look hard at our proposition and ask ourselves, “how relevant is stockbroking to the needs of the modern financial consumer?”’

He said the team will aim to build a compelling proposition for new clients, simplifying its existing offering and investing in technology to deliver operational efficiencies to lower the cost of distribution.

This has meant reviewing the way Brewin engages with its clients, with plans to roll out a customer relationship management system to build efficiencies, for example, sending out a risk questionnaire and conducting money laundering checks before a meeting. ‘We all face the same challenges but what will separate the winners and losers is the whole changing world around them. As a sector we have been traditional, but we think we have got a strategy that addresses the needs of today’s consumers,’ Ford said.

The company has invested substantially in new software system Figaro, so far rolled out across its execution-only business Stock Trade, but not yet in the core investment management business.

While Ford was unable to disclose the total costs associated with rolling out the new system, he said that despite it being behind schedule, it remains on budget. The firm aims to roll out Figaro to the group by the second quarter, with two investment managers currently being used as ‘pathfinders’.

During the second half of the year, Brewin’s branch network rationalisation gathered pace and office closures in Inverness, Teesside, Hereford and Swansea followed those in Bradford and Dumfries last year.

Ford said the ‘days of five branches being shut in five days are behind us’, although further office moves could not be ruled out.

The business has also opted to withdraw investment management for clients with less than £50,000, arguing the costs of servicing these clients has become too high. They are being offered a move to execution-only as an alternative, although Ford said the firm is looking to develop a direct-to-consumer proposition that is lower cost, simplified and likely to have Brewin's Managed Funds Service at its core.

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