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National wealth manager Bellpenny announced that it has acquired Essex-based Unizone Ltd, one of the largest IFA businesses in the South-East of England.

The acquisition, Bellpenny’s 22nd, involves more than 2000 active clients and £330m of funds under management, spilt evenly between pensions and investment business.

Employees of Unizone, including financial planners and more than 20 support staff, will join Bellpenny. Unizone’s existing office in Coggeshall will be retained, under the Bellpenny brand, and becomes a third regional hub, alongside those in The Midlands and Glasgow.

Bellpenny’s CEO Kevin Ronaldson commented: “It is no coincidence that we’ve completed two of our largest deals to date – Unizone and Torquil Clark – within the last couple of months. In the immediate aftermath of the RDR it seemed mainly to be smaller firms considering their exit options. However we’ve recently seen a surge in interest from owners of larger businesses looking to de-risk and release capital.”

Neil Donnelly,Managing Director of Unizone said: “We’re proud to have built Unizone into one of the leading IFA businesses in South East England, helping thousands of clients manage their money and secure their financial futures along the way. However, my fellow Directors and I concluded that the time was right to join forces with a much larger wealth management organisation. We’re confident that being part of Bellpenny will be to the long-term benefit of clients and staff alike.”

Dominic Rose, Acquisitions Director of Bellpenny said:“A recurrent theme in recent discussions with IFA owners is the inexorable downward pressure on profit margins. One effect of this is that they’re having very carefully to reassess the cost of advice, which means it’s inevitable that some clients will be priced out of the market. Economies of scale mean larger firms are able to give more clients access to financial planning expertise, whether face-to-face, over the phone or online.”  

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