Former Woodford IM employees follow fallen star manager to latest venture

Investment analyst, relationship manager and COO of Woodford’s boutique among those returning for his comeback

A number of employees of Neil Woodford’s failed investment business have cropped up at his latest venture, WCM Partners.

Woodford announced his return to fund management over a week ago with the launch of a Jersey-based biotech fund targeting institutional money. His dramatic comeback sees him once again teaming up with right-hand man Craig Newman, who was the chief executive of Woodford Investment Management until its implosion in October 2019. Acacia Research, which bought a handful of cut-price assets from the Woodford Equity Income fund, has also been roped in.

Filings from Companies House show WCM Partners was incorporated as Active Capital Management on 30 June 2020 before changing its name in November. 

Newman was appointed as a director on 15 February, alongside ex-Woodford IM head of digital and technology Jon Adair. Former Woodford IM C-suite member Paul Green is also listed as registered individual, reprising his role as COO.  

All three have worked alongside Woodford since his days at Invesco, where he built his reputation as a star manager, leaving with him to launch his own fund boutique in 2014.  

More ex-Woodford staffers return for Jersey venture

A closer look at WCM Partners’ Linkedin profile reveals more former staffers from Woodford’s Oxfordshire funds business have hopped on board his latest venture. 

In total six employees are listed with the business on Linkedin. Woodford himself is nowhere to be found on the company’s profile page nor is he listed as a registered officer on Companies House.

Kristian Penttila, who also left Invesco for Woodford IM, returns as relationship manager for WCM Partners, as does head of HR Yvonne Pownall who started at Woodford’s boutique in March 2017. 

WCM Partners has also scooped up Alex Staples who was an investment operations analyst at Woodford IM for two and a half years.  

The only apparent newcomer is Gavin Petken who is also listed as a director on WCM Partners’ Companies House profile.  

Petken has held several board appointments previously, according to his Linkedin profile, and is currently a non-executive director for carpets and ceramic tiles manufacturer Victoria. 

For 13 years he was a managing director at RBS where he was chiefly involved in private equity transactions across the US and UK. He left the Big Four bank in 2013 to become head of investment South and Quoted for the Business Growth Fund but left last October.  

Woodford sets up shop in Buckinghamshire mansion

Though Woodford’s new business will be based in Jersey its main office will be located in Marlow Place, a Buckinghamshire mansion where King George II once lived. 

News of the fallen star manager’s return has sparked an outcry in the industry with True & Fair Campaign co-founder Gina Miller calling for him to be barred from managing money. 

The Financial Conduct Authority is still investigating the collapse of his former fund, now renamed LF Equity Income, which is still in the process of being wound down more than 16 months later. Losses for the hundreds of thousands of investors trapped in the fund, many of who are Hargreaves Lansdown customers, are estimated to be over £1bn.

See also: Industry pans Neil Woodford’s Jersey comeback amid ongoing FCA probe 

The FCA, which responded to Woodford’s comeback days after the fact, has said WCM Partners will need to apply for permission before commencing any activity in the UK and said it would share information with the Jersey Financial Services Commission on any applications made in their respective jurisdictions.

Separately the JFSC said it was “disappointed” by Woodford’s announcement which came before he had even applied to conduct business in the region.

Since Woodford IM shuttered its doors former staffers have resurfaced elsewhere. Investment director Paul Lamacraft landed at Schroders to assist on the UK Public Private trust, previously known as Woodford Patient Capital, while former head of compliance Chris Martin joined Alpha FMC.

See also: Neil Woodford’s former head of compliance resurfaces at industry consultancy firm

About the author

Latest Stories