By Scott Wright

A GLASGOW wealth management firm has made its first acquisition with the takeover of Kirkintilloch-based Prudent Financial Management.

And the founders of Gilliland Neilson Brown say the deal will not be its last.

The chartered financial planner increased assets under management to £100 million from £80m with the acquisition of Prudent, which was sparked by its owners seeking an exit in order to retire. The client portfolio of Prudent, set by up former Prudential executives George Bryce, James Wilson and Stephen Brady 20 years ago, has passed to the new owner.

Richard Gilliland, who formed Gilliland Neilson Brown with Ailsa Brown 17 years ago, said: “We had been looking for a year or so to acquire another IFA (independent financial adviser) business, and looked at a number, but apart from this one nothing fitted our criteria. We wanted one that was very well established, well run by good people, and who had a good quality client base. That was important to us.

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“The three individuals [who ran Prudent] are really nice people, and they fitted that criteria.”

He added: “It is quite important when taking a business over that the ethos of what we are doing, and the ethos of what they were doing, can be merged together quite well. It has worked well so far.”

Mr Gilliland said it will consider further deals as it targets increasing funds under management to £250m, though insisted it would only look at firms with the right fit.

He said: “Hopefully it is the first of a few. We looked at one or two where we could not agree terms, or didn’t fit with that we wanted. That is quite important."

Noting that future deals could mirror the Prudent deal, where individuals are looking to retire, he added: “We’re hoping we can do one or two others, but we are quite discerning. We are not going to go out and merge with others for the sake of it.

“We’re out there, we have the cash availability to do it, but we are going to be discerning.”

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Mr Gilliland said the acquisition comes amid strong underlying growth at Gilliland Neilson Brown. The firm is currently winning new business at a rate of around £1m a month, which he said this amounts to annual growth of 16% to 17%.

Mr Gilliland said: “There is a need to get good quality financial advice in the market. The marketplace has changed a lot over the last 10 years. Ten years ago the banks occupied part of the space, but the banks have come out of it.

“The other thing which has happened is a lot of the private client businesses, private banks, or even some of the bigger banks like Barclays have said we are not going to deal with you unless your funds under management are £1m or £500,000, so a lot of well-off people [are looking for advice].”

Asked if the firm faces a lot of competition for acquisitions, Ms Brown said: “The majority of acquisitions tend to be into firms which are consolidating on a large scale, and just bring clients across without the focus on those individual clients. There are a lot of retiring IFAs out there who are not comfortable with that way of working. They want to ensure their clients remain individual clients and are looked after, not becoming a number, and that the advice they give us appropriate, not to fit the method of working of the new organisation.”

On whether the political uncertainty was influencing savers’ plans, Ms Brown said she detects a “hesitation and concern” among people to embark on new investments, though said it is not having a pronounced effect at her firm.

Mr Gilliland noted there is a “hesitancy” in the wider business sector. “If you are in business in Scotland you have to do the best you can with what you have got. Businesspeople take these things into account… and generally most are successful,” he said.