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Financial giant Brewin Dolphin sees growth but cuts dividend

The City Quay base of Brewin Dolphin. Picture by Kim Cessford / DCT Media
The City Quay base of Brewin Dolphin. Picture by Kim Cessford / DCT Media

The Dundee head of financial giant Brewin Dolphin said his office has performed well against a backdrop of volatile stock markets and the coronavirus pandemic.

Ian MacDonald, spoke as the firm revealed a 6.6% increase in turnover to £361.4million, which includes £19.8m from recent acquisitions, for the year ending September 30.

Higher commission saw income increase during the second half of the year.

Pre-tax profits at the firm, which expanded its presence in Dundee with the acquisition of local business Clark Thomson Mortgagefinders in 2018, fell by 0.8% to £62.1m.

The firm continued its move into the financial sector in Ireland, with the acquisition of Investec Capital and Investments for a net consideration of €43.4m.

Mr MacDonald said: “Despite the obvious challenges presented by Covid-19, Brewin Dolphin has had a strong year and our Dundee office has performed well.

“The investment we made in technology prior to the pandemic has shone through, with a smooth transition to working from home and our team able to do everything they could in the office.

“Stock markets have gone through an especially volatile time and in that respect, access to our London-based research and analyst team has been absolutely critical.

“Clients have understandably been concerned about their investments and we have been able to communicate what is happening and why, which has seldom been more important.

“Throughout the crisis, our focus has been on supporting them with financial advice and protecting their wealth.”

Mr MacDonald added the pandemic has seen an increase in enquiries from clients about protecting assets, including safeguarding family-owned businesses and ensuring investments are diversified.

He said: “In many cases, we have seen clients transfer more of their wealth to our investment managers to manage on their behalf, to avoid the pitfalls of volatility after a decade-long bull market.

“We have also noticed more of a shift towards environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing, with both individuals and charities wanting to know their money is being put towards ethical purposes.”

The firm saw a leap of 20% in income from its financial planning services, to £33.1m, from £27.5m last year, while its assets under management rose by 5.8% to 47.6m

Total fixed costs at the firm have increased by £13.8m to £221.3m, with incremental costs through acquisitions totalling £12.7m.

Staff costs increased by £12.5m, to £139.2m, with £7.5m reflecting the impact of acquisitions which included around 100 additional staff over the period.

When acquisitions are stripped out, staff costs grew by 3.9% as a result of annual salary inflation and headcount increases to support the Group’s continued growth.

The firm has cut its final dividend for 2020 to 9.9p per share, down from the 2019 figure of 12p, which brings the total for 2020 to 14.3p per share – a fall of 12% as it aims to “remain prudent” in the face of “continuous headwinds into next year.”

The move represents a payout ratio of 70% which remains in line with it target payout ratio of between 60% and 80% of annual adjusted diluted earnings per share.

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