Fairstone, one of the UK’s largest Chartered financial planning firms, has announced the acquisition of Essex-based Andrew Cohen Associates, marking another milestone in the firm’s growth plan for 2020.
This acquisition by the full-service wealth management house, further highlights the strength of Fairstone’s unique proprietary Downstream Buy Out (DBO) acquisition model which integrates ambitious IFA firms into the group, typically over a two-year period, prior to final acquisition. The focus of Fairstone’s approach is to attract businesses that do not want to sell today, instead targeting robust and well-managed firms that want to grow and develop, therefore crystallising a higher overall valuation in the future.
Significantly, the vast majority of companies that have successfully reached the ultimate acquisition stage demonstrate continued organic growth and a higher valuation than expected at the outset of the journey, with firms commonly exceeding their original aspirational sale value.
Based near Saffron Walden, Andrew Cohen Associates is a whole-of-market advice firm specialising in advice and management of investment and retirement portfolios.
The acquisition brings an additional 850 clients into the group together with Andrew Cohen Associates’ four advisers and six support staff. The acquisition also secures gross fee income of £1m for Fairstone together with funds under management of £150 million.
Commenting on the deal, Lee Hartley, CEO of Fairstone, said: “We are delighted to complete the final acquisition of Andrew Cohen Associates, having worked hand-in-hand with them throughout the integration phase.
“The team is a strong cultural fit for Fairstone, with high quality individuals who really care and put clients at the heart of what they do. Acquisitions like this are easy when you’re dealing with professional people who genuinely understand the modern world of wealth management.
“Within Fairstone, we work hard to ensure our proposition gives firms the framework they need to significantly grow their businesses, without compromising on client service or independence. Finalising this deal with Andrew Cohen marks a valued addition to our group and continues our scheduled growth plan for 2020.”
Company principal at Andrew Cohen Associates, Frank Banks-Seeney explained that Fairstone’s comprehensive approach to risk and compliance was a major factor in the firm joining Fairstone.
Mr Banks-Seeney added: “The opportunity to spend more time with clients and less time dealing with regulation was the main driver behind us wanting to join Fairstone. The compliance resources Fairstone provides are beyond the reach of a smaller directly authorised firm and allow us to provide clients with a more focused service as a result. More than that, we have the comfort of knowing that Fairstone have extremely high standards when it comes to managing risk and business quality – this means as a business we are in good company.
“As the integration with Fairstone has been gradual and structured, clients have been able to get used to the name change while also experiencing the same excellent standards of service. We retain a local presence and now have the backing of a strong, national Chartered firm that thinks the same way that we do – essentially giving us, and more importantly our clients, the best of both worlds.”
Further supporting Fairstone’s measured growth plan, eight firms have joined its unique DBO programme so far this year, bringing more than £1.2bn in funds under management to the wider business. Fairstone is also on track to announce a number of additional deals before the turn of the year.
Lee Hartley added: “I can say with confidence that Fairstone remains in a superb position to deliver continued growth throughout this year and far beyond. Our strategy is the exact opposite of the traditional ‘consolidator’ model and our underlying numbers – from client satisfaction and client retention through to earn-out performance – fully back this up.”
Headquartered in Newcastle, Fairstone is the number one ranked wealth management firm on Trustpilot* with over 69,000 clients and operates nationally across 42 locations.