The Wren Sterling Group (Wren Sterling), providers of specialist independent financial planning advice to private and corporate clients, has acquired Mutual Financial Management LLP, an IFA based in Wilmslow, Cheshire, and MDFM Ltd, a discretionary fund manager (together “Mutual”). The deal is subject to FCA approval.
Mutual has around 1,100 clients, managing c.£675m on their behalf. The deal takes the total AuM acquired by Wren Sterling over the last 3 years over the £1bn mark and pushes its own total AuM to over £5.4bn.
The transaction is Nottingham-based Wren Sterling’s first announced deal since its secondary management buyout by Lightyear Capital completed in late 2021, and its largest to date. It follows four acquisitions in 2021 and one each in 2019 and 2020 and marks a step change in the pace and ambition of Wren Sterling’s acquisition strategy.
Mutual’s 29 employees and partners will all become part of the Wren Sterling Group. Austin Hutchinson, Mutual’s managing partner, will continue to run the business and will join Wren Sterling’s Executive Committee.
The business will be rebranded to Wren Sterling and will provide Wren Sterling with a new base in the North West to complement its seven existing locations around the UK. Once completed, Wren Sterling will comprise c. 240 staff and nearly 100 advisers.
The acquisition is in line with Wren Sterling’s strategy of acquiring strong businesses in key strategic locations, as it looks to accelerate its growth through improving its brand and proposition, simplifying its business and investing in its people. The business has a particular focus on acquiring new hubs in the London, South West, Midlands and Edinburgh markets.
Ian Darby, Wren Sterling’s executive chairman, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Austin, his fellow partners and all of Mutual’s staff to Wren Sterling. Acquiring a business of this calibre and scale is truly game-changing for us and shows the business’s renewed ambition following Lightyear’s investment.
“What truly sets Mutual apart are its people, who are highly entrepreneurial and innovation-led and share our commitment to the very highest levels of client service. Furthermore, the addition of a DFM capability gives us the option to enhance our offering for certain clients who might benefit from it, while remaining fiercely protective of our role as independent financial planners.”
Austin Hutchinson, Mutual Financial Management’s managing partner, added: “We received a lot of interest in the business, but Wren Sterling was the only company who we felt comfortable entrusting our clients and our people to. We really like the Wren Sterling business, it’s people and its growth model. These were our key considerations when choosing our long-term partner.
“Their scale, commitment to operational excellence and willingness to invest in technology and marketing, all supported by Lightyear, gave us confidence that they had both the means and the motivation to enhance our client offering and invest in our people. We’re all incredibly excited about taking the next step with our new colleagues and starting the next phase of our journey.”
Stewart Cape of KPMG acted as financial advisor to the partners of Mutual, with Nicholas Fielden of Fielden Marshall Glover Strutt providing legal advice and Rob Wardle of Azets providing tax advice.