Fairstone announce acquisition of Utopia Financial Planning


16 December 2021



Men having a handshake

Fairstone, which incorporates one of the UK’s largest Chartered financial planning firms, today announces the acquisition of West Yorkshire based Utopia Financial Planning, making it the sixth acquisition announced in 2021.

The acquisition by the full-service wealth management house, further highlights the strength of Fairstone’s unique proprietary Downstream Buy Out (DBO) acquisition model which integrates ambitious forward-thinking IFA firms into the group, prior to final acquisition.

During the integration phase, Partner firms are supported to optimise their business performance and fulfil their growth aspirations before crystallising a structured sale of their business at a premium valuation. This unique proposition enables IFA firms to benefit from growth both before and after acquisition.

Significantly, the vast majority of companies that have successfully reached ultimate acquisition stage demonstrate continued organic growth and a higher valuation than expected at the outset of the journey, with firms commonly exceeding their original aspirational sale value. On average, the firms Fairstone has acquired receive 111% of their total earn-out value.

Based in Liversedge, West Yorkshire, Utopia is a whole-of-market advice firm specialising in advice and management of investment and retirement portfolios.

The acquisition brings an additional 800 clients into the group together with Utopia Financial Planning’s four advisers and six support staff. The acquisition also secures funds under management in excess of £100 million.

Commenting on the deal, Lee Hartley, CEO of Fairstone, said: “We are delighted to complete the final acquisition of Utopia Financial Planning. They are exactly the kind of robust firm we are looking to join Fairstone and grow with us.

“Our experience shows that culturally aligned firms are the most profitable and successful in the long-term. Ray, Darron and the team at Utopia place clients at their core and their commitment to first class service makes them an excellent fit for us.

“Within Fairstone, we invest in forward thinking IFA firms to optimise their capital value, providing the framework they need to significantly grow their business, without compromising on client service or independence. We are delighted to have Utopia on board, marking another valued addition to the Fairstone family.”

Utopia Financial Planning Principals, Darron Whitehead and Ray Garnett, said that the Fairstone proposition appealed as it provided continuity and long-term reassurance for clients and staff for years to come.

Darron Whitehead said: “Fairstone share our client centred ethos as well as our commitment to providing first class service, while remaining independent.

“We have always strived to provide the best possible service for our clients, and we are very confident that the acquisition with Fairstone will enhance the relationship and services our clients have come to expect.”

Ray Garnett added: “We are very proud to become part of the Fairstone family, who will help us to look after our clients and their families for generations to come.”

Headquartered in Newcastle with 42 locations across the UK, Fairstone is the number one ranked wealth management firm on Trustpilot and oversees £11 Billion FUM for over 40,000 wealth clients.

Lee Hartley said: “Fairstone partner with high-quality firms who we can invest in and support their progression before acquiring those businesses in future years.

“Our approach is the exact opposite of the traditional ‘consolidator’ model and our underlying numbers – from client satisfaction and client retention through to earn-out performance – fully back this up.”

Speak to our M&A team to find out more about how our unique acquisition model could work for you.

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