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Investors dump wealth firms following Brewin Dolphin profit drop

Investors are selling wealth firm stock on the back of a Brewin Dolphin trading update.

Investors dump wealth firms following Brewin Dolphin profit drop

Investors are selling out of wealth management firms following a trading update from Brewin Dolphin

The numbers, covering the six months to 31 March, showed Brewin's pre-tax fell by 42% to £21.5 million. 

The decline was mainly attributed to lower other income, which declined by 39.7%, due to outflows from the firm's advisory business as the company shifts its focus onto discretionary wealth management services.  

Profit in the corresponding period of 2015 was also elevated by a one-off gain of £9.7 million. 

At 2.20pm, shares in Brewin were down by 5.4%, or 15p, at 260.8p. Shares had been down by as much as 8% at one point. 

It closest rivals, Rathbones and Charles Stanley, were down by 4.7% and 1.6% respectively.  

Brooks Macdonald was faring better however, with a rise of 2.1% at £17.70.

Sentiment in the sector was also digesting a trading update from Hargreaves Lansdown, in which it revealed its Financial Services Compensation Scheme levy had shot up to £5.5 million.

The Bristol-based firm's shares were down 2.3% at £12.70

The sector bore some of the brunt of a wider sell-off in equities as investors fretted over a US rate rise. The FTSE 100 was down 1.26% at 6,088 and the FTSE All share down 1.15% at 3,351. 

Brewin chief David Nicol accompanied the trading update with a bullish statement, saying the firm was now in 'hiring mode' as it enters a growth phase following a period of restructure. 

'We have begun to actively expand our client-facing resources by hiring investment managers and financial planners,' he said. 

'In particular, our regional structure allows us to efficiently take advantage of growth opportunities and increase the appeal of the group to new recruits.'

A host of the UK's top fund managers will be hoping Nicol's strategy delivers. 

Recent research by Wealth Manager showed Brewin was the most popular wealth manager stock holding among Citywire AAA-rated managers. 

Investors include Fidelity's Alex Wright through his Special Situations fund, alongside Martin Cholwill and Dan Nickols, who own stakes through their Royal London UK Equity Income and Old Mutual UK Smaller Companies funds,respectively. 

JO Hambro Capital's AA-rated team of Clive Beagles and James Lowen also have a holding in their UK Equity Income fund.  

Analyst reaction  

The immediate broker response to Brewin's results was broadly positive. 

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (KBW) issued an outperform rating on the stock in response to the update.  

KBW analyst Jonathan Richards admitted that while the firm is facing a number of 'challenges' in the second half,  especially given the volatility surrounding the UK's EU referendum, the fact it has returned to hiring mode is a good sign.  

'Brewins continues to hire investment managers with the aim of increasing discretionary FUM by 30% over the medium term,' Richards said. 

Canaccord also offered a bullish response to the expansionist tone, reiterating its buy rating on the stock.  

'We welcome the shift to expansion and hiring after the period of rationalisation,' the broker said. 

Meanwhile, Zeus Capital see Brewin as attractive for income investors.

'[It] is well capitalised and is able to fund both an attractive dividend stream and invest in its growth projects,' Zeus said. 

Peel Hunt offered a slightly more cautious response as it reaffirmed its hold rating. 

'We remain slightly cautious given the execution risk over the next few years and the current rate of earnings growth,' analysts Stuart Duncan and Anthony Da Costa said. 

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