Case study: Wren Sterling

14-03-2024

Digitalising an independent financial advisory – Wren Sterling is an independent financial advisory business serving private and corporate clients across the UK.

 Investing in a thriving business with buy and build potential – Wren Sterling was established in 2015 following our management buyout of Towergate Financial. Wren Sterling presented an excellent opportunity for Palatine to invest in a thriving business operating in a sector with positive market dynamics and growth opportunities.

The business had a clearly defined plan to develop and strengthen its routes to market through intelligent strategies and investment in systems and people. The opportunities available for the business were significant, given the highly fragmented nature of the market.

We invested £6.2m, and Palatine team members Tony Dickin and Andy Strickland joined the board as Non-Executive Directors.

Going for growth with added value

Strategic M&A – During our investment, the business made eight acquisitions of smaller IFAs, adding recurring revenue and AUM with minimla incremental overhead. We also supported the company with a refinancing process to provide additional firepower for further acquisitions.

Operational Enhancement – Wren Sterling invested in a cloud-based operating system that automated several processes, reducing costs and streamlining outputs. The business made additional cost savings by establishing a telephony advisory service, transitioning several self-employed advisors to employed and introducing a hybrid working model.

People – We strengthened the Board with several key senior management appointments, including a new CEO, CFO, Sales Director, Head of Compliance and Head of People. We helped the business reduce overhead costs by centralising back-office functions.

ESG – We saw an opportunity in the growing demand for ESG aligned investments, which became a priority growth area for the Wren Sterling team. Launching the Impact Investing service allowed clients to invest in funds, achieving positive social and environmental outcomes alongside returns.

Wren Sterling introduced robust systems to ensure employee health and safety were prioritised. The business also focused more on people development and engagement, which saw customer satisfaction rates increase.  The company also significantly reduced the environmental impacts of its operations by switching to an online delivery model.

The results – During our investment, the business grew its assets under management significantly to £4.6bn and substantially increased profitability.

The partnership we have enjoyed with Palatine has been highly successful over the last six years, based on a close, collaborative and supportive relationship. Together, we have achieved a huge amount as we professionalised the business, investing significantly in our technology, people and proposition.

Ian Darby

Executive Chairman at Wren Sterling