By Scott Wright

AN esteemed name on the Scottish financial services scene, which prides itself on its long-term client relationships and patient approach to investment, was acquired by a Canadian player just over a year ago. And it appears the integration has been as smooth as both parties had hoped.

The investment management business of Adam & Co, the private bank established in Edinburgh in 1983, was acquired by Canaccord Genuity Group from NatWest Group, owner of Royal Bank of Scotland, for £54 million in a deal that completed on October 1, 2021. The sale included the Adam & Co name, but not its banking and lending operation. That remained with NatWest and has now been absorbed into Coutts & Co, the lender’s private bank.

Graham Storrie was managing director of Adam & Co when Canaccord came calling. While he anticipated staying with NatWest after the acquisition was finalised, he was asked by the new owner at the eleventh hour if he would like to remain at the helm – an approach he readily agreed to. And, speaking to The Herald last week, the financial services veteran said working under Canaccord has energised him personally, while allowing his team to continue doing what they do best.

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Mr Storrie, who had been managing director of Adam & Co for a decade prior to the Canaccord deal, said: “They really have been as good as their word, and the integration has gone incredibly well,” he said. “You always worry if the grass really is going to be that green when you get to that other side, but I think it has been really excellent.”

Mr Storrie acknowledged that Adam & Co’s first 12 months as part of Canaccord have coincided with major upheaval on the financial markets, as investors have worried about surging inflation in the slipstream of Russian’s war on Ukraine, and the subsequent approach to interest rates by Central Banks. The Bank of England recently warned the UK is set for its biggest recession since records began.

In spite of the discord, Mr Storrie said there has been no hint of panic among Adam & Co’s clients, the vast majority of whom stayed with the firm further to its takeover.

“Investment markets at the moment are really quite challenging, and have been since springtime,” he said. “Client portfolios are down because we can’t defy the gravity in the marketplace. But to be honest, we are a business in long-term relationships with our clients and they understand volatility.

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“What underpins it is the relationship we have got with them. We are regularly in contact with our clients and provide a very personal service from individuals they have been dealing with for a number of years. The average experience of our portfolio managers would be more than 20 years. The average number of years these guys have worked for Adam & Co would be 12 years, so people come to Adam & Company and stay.

“That’s been one of the other great things. When we all moved across from NatWest Group, having been very much part of Coutts and the private baking set-up there, 100% of the team moved across and obviously brought their clients with them.”

He added: “The Adam brand is an important thing, and it is a nice thing to have, but at the end of the day we are a relationships business. If the person looking after your money is still the same person and are going to look after your money in exactly the same way, it is tick, tick.”

Mr Storrie emphasised that clients generally invest with Adam & Co for the long haul.

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He said: “It is very much about being in it, staying in it and having a well-diversified portfolio. You still can’t defy gravity with that approach, but over the longer term it is time in the market that is important, not timing of the market.”

In the present, Canaccord Genuity, which has £32 billion of assets under management and administration in the UK, is wasting no time in growing its presence in Scotland. Adam & Co is now based in a new office on Princes Street with the capacity for 30-plus people, and it is steadily filling up.

The team in Edinburgh expanded by 50% following Canaccord’s acquisition of wealth manager Punter Southall in June, with new people joining in roles such as financial planning and investment management.

“As a business, we want to grow, and we want to grow organically. But when good acquisition opportunities coming along like that then we will consider them,” Mr Storrie said.

Separately, a new business development director has joined Adam & Co, and more financial planners are being recruited. Investment has also been made in digital marketing and advertising, including a brand refresh. “I felt this was a big moment in the history of the business and the brand,” Mr Storrie said. “We want to honour the history and heritage we have got as an organisation, but we want to position ourselves as a contemporary business that is relevant, keen to grow and open for business.”

Mr Storrie’s journey in financial services began when he joined Royal Bank of Scotland on leaving school, aged 17. He then proceeded to spend what has been the lion’s share of his career at Standard Life, where he held a variety of senior roles during a highly satisfactory spell, before returning to Royal Bank in 2004. There, he led the NatWest Bancassurance business until 2010, when the joint venture between RBS and Aviva ended.

Reflecting further on the Canaccord deal, Mr Storrie said: “I feel energised by what has happened to the investment business in Adam & Company. I’ve been 45 years in financial services.

“When this deal came about, I wasn’t meant to go with the business, I was going to be staying with NatWest. But right at the death, Canaccord approached NatWest Group to see if they could have a conversation with me. I ended up, right at the end, going with the business and I have to say that was a real energising moment.”

Six Questions:

What countries have you most enjoyed travelling to, for business or leisure, and why?
Italy. Amazing culture, history, food, wine, people and weather.

When you were a child, what was your ideal job? Why did it appeal? 
Car designer. I have always loved cars and enjoyed technical drawing. I still have some of my early designs.

What was your biggest break in business? 
Joining Standard Life in the late 1980s and working there until early 2000s. It was a great company, very well led, a market leader and provided me with tremendous opportunities to grow and develop.

What was your worst moment in business?
I was on the executive team at RBS when the global financial crisis hit in October 2008, leading to the UK Government bailout. Whilst it was an extremely challenging time, I also learned a huge amount, both personally and in a business context.

Who do you most admire and why?
Sir Andy Murray. An outstanding role model with unbelievable commitment, dedication, tenacity, resilience and talent. Combining those qualities gave him the ability to beat the likes of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic and hold the position of world No 1 above each of them. 
I had the privilege of being at centre court 
in 2016 to see him win his second Wimbledon title.

What book are you reading and what music are you listening to?
I am reading Inside F1 by Lee McKenzie. 
I love Motown music.