Embattled WH Ireland has made key hires after losing six leading figures in its business.
The resignations came between December and February and included Bristol office head Nick Lamb and three wealth managers in its London office, Lawrence Cotton, James Hughes and Vince Ferguson.
Chief operating officer Paul Jones has also left the business to become chief of staff at Rathbones, while head of compliance Susan Brooksbank has gone just two months after joining the firm from Jupiter Asset Management.
The departures come as the firm’s new head of wealth management Stephen Ford (pictured below), who took up his post on 18 February, starts implementing his blueprint for the business.
Ford has made his first hire, recruiting his former Brewin colleague Richard Croydon for WH Ireland’s Bristol branch.
Meanwhile the firm has also recruited Philip Tansey as its new chief financial and operating officer.
Tansey worked alongside WH Ireland chief executive Philip Wale at Panmure Gordon. Both played a pivotal role in in turning around the business, which was ultimately bought by former Barclays boss Bob Diamond’s investment firm Atlas in 2017.
The firm has also hired Yen Chang from Bellecapital as head of compliance. Her CV includes senior roles at Charles Stanley and Quilter Cheviot.
The resignations came before WH Ireland delivered two profits warnings in the space of a few weeks earlier this year.
In the most recent one, issued on 5 March, WH Ireland warned that profitability is likely to be under pressure for the immediate future after a review identified a number of additional exceptional costs, sending shares crashing by 42%.
This warning was accompanied with the launch of a £5 million placing to raise funds to boost its regulatory capital buffers. The placing was backed by M&G Recovery manager Tom Dobell and Polygon Global Partners hedge fund boss Reade Griffith, along with staff.
Wale, who replaced Richard Killingbeck as CEO last July, does not underestimate the challenge to turnaround the business, but is optimistic he can transform its fortunes.
Wale (pictured above) draws comfort from the firm’s profitable corporate broking business and the fact shareholders backed the placing, which Wale he believes gives the firm a strong platform to implement his strategy. He also pointed out that Aviva took a 3% stake in the business earlier this month.
While expressing regret at the resignations, Wale said he is excited about WH Irelands's imminent recruitment plans.
‘To take the business forward you need strong people and we are looking to hire more people,’ Wale told Wealth Manager.
‘We have a successful and profitable corporate broking business and we are backed by a strong shareholder base, who have supported us in taking the business forward and growing.’
He added: ‘I don’t believe the people who have left us have done so because they believe WH Ireland is in a position from which it can’t recover. The calibre of people who have joined us show they believe in the recovery.’