SCOTLAND’S reputation for prudence has stood its fund managers in good stead but of course that has to be backed up by excellence in execution.

The double takeover of two estimable Scottish financial management firms announced in almost as many weeks has highlighted how the sector’s gems catch the eye of the acquisitive London players.

One Four Nine purchased Glasgow-based APC Financial Solutions & Consultancy Services last month and then Russell Gibson Financial Management in Aberdeen this week, putting its assets under management to more than £800 million, across 2,500 clients and taking staff numbers close to 70. 

While not on the scale of the London-based Phoenix Group’s 2018 acquisition of the life and pension business Standard Life, which employs 2,800 in Edinburgh, it is a significant indicator of the enduring worth and value of the Scottish financial services sector, at least as it is seen from south of the Border.

“Scotland is a key area of expansion for us, having spent considerable time since launch seeking high quality businesses in the region whose values and commitment to excellent customer service match our own,” says Gabrielle Beaumont, One Four Nine managing director.

Before its last purchase One Four Nine said it plans further growth with equity funding from investors in place through Copper Street Capital, to “further facilitate ambitious plans for scaling up and building a nationwide footprint”.

Brian Donnelly: How London fund manager's Scottish takeovers impact ScotlandThe Glasgow business was the first of the two acquisitions in Scotland, announced in quick succession. Picture: Getty Images.

The firm welcomed the all-female leadership team from APC, while Alan Ball said: “Myself and the very talented team at Russell Gibson are very excited to begin this new chapter and flourish as part of the One Four Nine team.”

While mergers can boost growth and foster investment, and One Four Nine says it will help its latest arrivals to its stable “focus on what they do best”, the change of ownership of such firms to London can also be seen as detrimental to the wider standing of corporate Scotland, in the UK, and globally.

Scotland is generally considered a positive place to invest across sectors, not least hospitality.

Deputy business editor Scott Wright takes a look beyond the headlines at deals such as the sale of the famous Ubiquitous Chip in the west end of Glasgow.

“Given the global profile the restaurant had cultivated since being founded by the late Ronnie Clydesdale more than 50 years ago, this was no surprise. The Chip, quite simply, is one of the most renowned restaurants that Scotland has to offer,” he writes.

“However, far from being an isolated deal, the sale of the Ashton Lane venue to pub giant Greene King is one of many major sales seen in the hospitality industry already this year – and it is likely there will be a good deal more to come.”

Business correspondent Kristy Dorsey looked at the impact of the energy crisis on business this week, writing in her analysis: “With no equivalent of the consumer price cap to shelter from the worst of the storm, UK businesses and smaller firms in particular have been left defenceless against the energy bill crisis that financial expert Martin Lewis has described as on par with the Covid pandemic.

“UK gas prices trebled throughout 2021 and have doubled again since the start of this year, meaning that businesses which last renewed their supply contracts two years ago are facing a five-fold increase as they begin to re-negotiate this autumn.”