Grant Thornton, the UK’s sixth largest accountancy firm is selling its wealth advisory arm to 1825, the financial advice arm of Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA)
The wealth unit, which has £1.7bn of assets under advice, consists of 100 employees, including 34 financial planners, all of whom will be joining 1825.
The deal, which has been rumoured for a few weeks, is reportedly an attempt by Grant Thornton to distance itself from potential conflicts of interest, and to “streamline its focus”.
Dave Dunckley, the recently appointed CEO of Grant Thornton UK, said, “As we increase our focus on our strategy to provide high quality audit, tax and advisory services to our core markets, it is clear the wealth advisory team’s growth potential would be best delivered by a business focused solely on the financial advice market.
“The team’s clients will undoubtedly be better served through 1825’s approach and proposition, with the businesses sharing a natural alignment in values and goals, so it makes practical sense for the team to be in an environment in which it can flourish. We wish Neil [Messenger] and the team continued success into the future.”
In the wake of proposals from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and from the Kingman review, the accountancy profession in the UK is under increasingly sharp scrutiny. Grant Thornton in particular has come in for criticism over its audit work on Patisserie Valerie.
Last week the firm announced a major overhaul of its audit arm. The changes include a new Audit Quality Board, a £7m investment in people and technology, an independent review of audit at the firm, and new centres of excellence in London and Birmingham.
The deal is expected to be completed in Q4, 2019 and the terms remain undisclosed.