Brewin Dolphin eyes review of operations to boost margins

Investment manager Brewin Dolphin is initiating a "major review" of its operations and activities to improve its flagging margin.

Unveiling a fall in interim profits, executive chairman Jamie Matheson said: "We are going to look at the whole business to see where we can bring in efficiencies and also make sure we can get the best service for our clients.

"We are aware that the margin difference between us and our peers is notable and this is a move to narrow that difference."

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But he said the firm was not planning to scale back its extensive network of branches. The firm has seven offices north of the Border and Matheson said Scotland remained a key part of the business.

The review was announced yesterday as the firm revealed that a one-off levy by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme wiped out its profit growth in the last half-year, despite funds under its management reaching 25 billion.

Brewin had to contribute 6.1 million to the scheme, which has claimed off member organisations following the failure of Keydata.

Brewin's pre-tax profit for the six months to 27 March was cut to 12m, down 21 per cent on the same period a year ago. Without the levy, it would have grown profits by 9.6 per cent.

Matheson said there was no point dwelling on the past, but noted that the firm was lobbying the regulator and Treasury on the need to avoid such substantial windfalls in the future. He added that the increased level of regulation in the industry also offered opportunities.

He said: "The RDR (retail distribution review] in particular means increased professionalism and is something that a firm of this size can cope well with. We're in a strong position to provide training and that sort of support to our people."

Brewin said it would maintain its interim dividend at 3.55p per share.