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Wealth Manager: Canaccord Wealth CEO Darke on the reinvention of Collins Stewart

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by Danielle Levy on May 09, 2013 at 00:01

If the credit crisis has taught us anything, it is how quickly the world of financial services can change.

Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management (CGWM), formerly known as Collin Stewart Wealth Management, is one business that has sought to benefit from change in the sector, having undergone something of a metamorphosis over the past five years.

Hot on the heels of its rebrand last week, CGWM chief executive Neil Darke is positive about the path ahead for the business.

The rebrand tops five years of significant change at the wealth manager. During this time it has completed a string of acquisitions, with Eden Financial the most recent, and has moved into financial planning through its purchase of Anderson Charnley back in 2010.

One of the most striking changes under Darke’s six-year tenure at the helm of the business has been a shift in focus from the Channel Islands to the UK mainland. In fact, the UK market now accounts for 40% of CGWM’s £9.5 billion in assets versus historic ratios which Darke says were closer to 80:20 or 70:30.

‘The inorganic growth opportunities in the UK are manifestly more material than in the Channel Islands. It is a smaller market and we have a bigger share of a smaller market, so naturally there is less we can do,’ says Darke. 

‘One of the reasons Canaccord bought Collins Stewart Plc was for the wealth business, and Canaccord sees the UK market as ripe for consolidation. It could see us, Collins Stewart Wealth Management/CGWM, as a key aggregator in that consolidation. Very recently we have seen an increasing number of transactions in the sector and one would expect that to continue’.

While Darke currently has no interest in moving into private banking, he said the management team would consider ‘four Cs’ when looking at potential acquisitions in the future: namely, culture, clients, capability and finally costs, lastly but still one of the larger elephants in the room.

With three acquisitions under its belt over the space of the past four years, which has helped the firm to double the size of its business, Darke says it has learnt a lot from the process.

Although he acknowledges that parts of the infrastructure have come under pressure in the past, he says significant investment in a robust platform now leaves the business well placed to consolidate smaller players.

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