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Sanlam UK buys Thesis as M&A spree continues

‘Retention of staff will be critical to its success’


Sanlam UK is looking towards “big, established players” in the wealth management space following the acquisition of Thesis Asset Management – its third deal this year.

The purchase of the £1.2bn south of England firm takes its private client discretionary assets under management (AUM) to £4.2bn ($5.4bn, €4.9bn).

In January 2019, it acquired Preston based wealth manager, Astute Wealth Management, a move which Sanlam said would deepen its presence in the north-west.

Earlier this month, it also acquired independent financial planning and employee benefits firm Blackett Walker, based in Newcastle.

Sanlam declined to provide the total AUM it had accumulated via the deals this year.

Sanlam lands 30 investment professionals

Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios at AJ Bell, said retaining employees will be essential. “The move is clearly designed to help push Sanlam towards the big, established players in the space but as ever, integration will be key.

“Retention of the staff will be critical to its success, particularly as wealth managers seem to be moving with increasing frequency in the last 18 months.”

It takes on a team of 30 investment professionals and support colleagues.

Jonathan Polin, chief executive at Sanlam, told our sister publication Portfolio Adviser the firm is planning to retain all of the staff “with no duplication of roles or shedding of jobs”.

Polin said: “It was clear from the outset of our discussions with the Thesis management team that we were fully aligned in terms of investment philosophy, culture and an unwavering commitment to client service.

Acquisition spree under Polin

Sanlam has been on an acquisition spree, according to Adrian Lowcock, head of personal investing at Willis Owen.

“Since Polin became CEO he has set out a plan for Sanlam to become a leading wealth manager in the UK and has made a number of acquisitions to support this ambition.”

Thesis has offices in Guildford, Lymington, Chichester and Brighton and will become part of Sanlam’s regional wealth management network. As part of the deal, Sanlam will acquire Thesis’ private client business, distribution network, direct support teams and Pallant, its financial planning business. Thesis will operate under the Sanlam UK brand, following regulatory approval.

In a press release announcing the deal, Polin said the company had “high ambitions to make Sanlam a leader in client-centric wealth management” and described the Thesis acquisition as an important milestone.

Lowcock said: “Of course, a few departures are inevitable and are always factored into any such acquisition. Other risks are markets, the price paid will be linked to AUM and that falls if markets fall, but you could wait forever if you worried about market volatility.”

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