Mark Robinson, Companies Editor – Investors Chronicle
26 April 2019
The Brexit impasse continues to dominate political discourse and its effect on business investment decisions, though undoubtedly negative, is difficult to quantify. It’s certainly true that UK investors have been starved of IPO action so far in 2019, though London is still favoured for cross-border admissions. At least a dozen high-profiles have been put on ice, which means that the advisory complex could be in line for a bonanza once a political resolution is put in place, presumably in the second half of the year. For now, however, the advisory complex continues to compete in a market with reduced – or perhaps stalled – opportunities.
We’ve been highlighting the ongoing changes affecting the national audit industry and matters have continued to develop over the quarter. BDO extended an already sizable lead in the overall AIM rankings, while moving up through the market-cap category, as the scale-benefits of the merger with Moore Stephens LLP start to flow through. The double-digit increase came as the accountancy firm confirmed it is considering various options to cleave the audit practice from the rest of its accounting, tax and business advisory activities.
A solitary net client gain was enough to push Grant Thornton into second place in the audit rankings, with KPMG relegated to third place on the podium. PKF Littlejohn has taken on the staff and clients of the London-based firm Welbeck Associates. In doing so, the adviser registered multiple gains and edged up into eighth place. KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) continue to battle it out for supremacy in the AIM 100 rankings, with the former adviser drawing level at the top of proceedings after a reversal in the previous quarter.
PwC has moved into second place in Basic Materials by aggregate market-cap, while Chapman David has moved into the bronze medal position by sector constituents. BDO is up into pole position in Financials on the back of new clients; Wynnstay Properties, M Winkworth and Sigma Capital. That means that KPMG moves down to second place with Deloitte back in third. PwC added Immunodiagnostic Systems Holdings and Diaceutics to its client base, thereby extending its advantage over the field in the Health Care sector. Meanwhile, BDO moved into a share of the silver medal position in the Technology rankings alongside KPMG.
Alma PR now occupies outright third in the AIM 100 rankings after it registered a solitary gain. Tulchan Communications was also on the rise after it was awarded advisory duties for AB Dynamics.
The addition of Purplebricks Group to its client roster means that Buchanan has taken the outright lead in the FTSE AIM UK 50, with FTI Consulting dropping down to second. The client-win also pushed the adviser into third place on the table by aggregate market-cap.
Fieldfisher is into third place alongside CMS in the Law Firm rankings. Pinsent Masons still leads the way from Gowling WLG, though DLA Piper is the frontrunner by aggregate client market-cap. Osborne Clarke and Dentons UK and Middle East were heading up the mid-table rankings.
Gowling WLG has taken the lead in the FTSE AIM 100 rankings with Pinsent Masons dropping down into a share of second place with CMS. Bird & Bird pulled in a net brace through the quarter. A marginal decline in numbers for Pinsent Masons has given way to a four-way tie for the lead in the AIM 50 with CMS, DWF and Gowling WLG to the fore.
Consolidation has played a part in the Nominated Adviser space through the quarter. SP Angel booked multiple gains on the back of its tie-up with Northland Capital Partners, reflecting the trend towards consolidation in the smaller stockbroking and financial advisory sector.
finnCap was the preferred advisory option for Evgen Pharma during the quarter, which moved the adviser into a share of the lead in the Health Care sector alongside Panmure Gordon. WH Ireland has taken the outright lead in the Industrials sector, albeit as the result of attrition on the part of finnCap. Cenkos Securities has secured outright second in the Oil & Gas rankings, while SP Angel is up into a share of third place on the back of its appointment by Active Energy Group. N+1 Singer stretched further ahead in the Consumer Goods sector, with the addition of Autins Group.
finnCap’s numbers pulled back over the quarter, but it remains the clear frontrunner in the overall AIM stockbroking rankings, ahead of Cenkos Securities and N+1 Singer. SP Angel produced the most noteworthy performance on the back of its tie-up with Northland Capital Partners. The stockbroker added a dozen new constituents from London’s junior market by combining its strength in key sectors like mining, oil and gas and technology with Northland’s expertise in pharmaceuticals and technology. Berenberg also made headway in the lower half of the table, which saw debuts for Zeus Capital, SI Capital and Strand Hanson.
Numis Securities inched further ahead if the FTSE AIM UK 50 rankings, increasing its advantage over Peel Hunt and Investec Securities, with the former adviser newly elevated into a share of second place.
SVS Securities is up into a share of third in the Basic Materials rankings after it was awarded the mandate for Premier African Minerals, but SP Angel stretched an already formidable advantage at the head of the table. Liberum Capital has taken the lead in the Financials rankings after it was awarded stockbroking duties for Orchard Funding Group. That meant that Numis Securities occupies second place on a standalone basis, with finnCap dropping back into joint third with Cenkos Securities.