WH Ireland ropes in ex-Brewin heavyweight for wealth management transformation

Wealth manager posted £1.6m loss for 2018

WH Ireland has roped in former Brewin Dolphin heavyweight Stephen Ford (pictured) to get its wealth management proposition back on track after suffering an exodus of senior staffers and reporting a loss for the year.

A 16-year old veteran of Brewin Dolphin, Ford is a well-known fixer-upper in the City.

In addition to serving as the FTSE 250 wealth manager’s head of London office and later its head of wealth and investment, he was made transformation director, helping to prep the wider business for life post the retail distribution review (RDR).

When he was made Brewin’s top wealth boss in 2013 he also became an executive director at the firm and was responsible for the group’s income, growth, advice standards and customer outcomes.

Most recently at City Asset Management he similarly helped the business to review its investment process and retool its sales and distribution strategy, which resulted in record growth in assets under management.

“Appointing someone of Stephen’s calibre to the role of head of wealth management represents an exciting step for the company as we continue along our path towards profitability and growing both of our businesses,” said WH Ireland CEO Phillip Wale.

A costly and challenging year

The wealth manager has endured a challenging period over the last year in which it saw the departure of three senior figures and widening losses off the back of a “costly and challenging” transformation.

The mass exodus kicked off over the summer when Ford’s predecessor Roddy Buchanan abruptly left the firm over a difference of opinion over the strategic direction of the private wealth management division.

A week later CEO Richard Killingbeck was also out the door as the firm posted a £1.6m loss for the year.

More recently director of finance Daniel Cowland has also resigned.

The departures of two of WH Ireland’s most senior figures prompted one of its largest shareholders, Kuwaiti European Holdings, to divest its entire 23.1% stake in the business.

Polygon Global Partners, Oceanwood Capital Management and M&G Investment Management are currently the largest institutional shareholders in the business, owning 29.72%, 24.08% and 14.19% respectively.

Ford joining early next year

Ford joins WH Ireland from City Asset Management as an executive director. Prior to that he was head of Brewin Dolphin’s London office from 2000 to 2016 and in 2013 became head of its wealth and investment proposition.

Commenting on his move Ford said: “I am looking forward to growing the wealth management franchise at WH Ireland and believe that there is real opportunity for the division to continue to grow and thrive”.

Ford is expected to join WH Ireland at some point in February 2019.

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