Ferguson, Neilson exit Nucleus amid Hay takeover

Nucleus Financial's Edinburgh HQ

David Ferguson, founder of Edinburgh funds platform Nucleus Financial Group, is to leave the firm following the £145 million acquisition of Nucleus by James Hay.

Barry Neilson, Nucleus chief customer officer, is also leaving the group.

The Nucleus name is to be used for enlarged group, replacing James Hay’s name and brand.

With £47 billion of assets under administration, the combined group is now one of the largest adviser platform providers in the UK.

Ferguson said: “It’s 23 years since we started work on a collection of ideas that eventually led to the near £20bn platform that Nucleus is today.

“We aimed to create something that was truly collaborative, and it was my privilege to do this with some of the most talented people in the industry.

“I hope we’ve been able to make a contribution towards the positive changes in the profession over the years, and with the company now becoming a key part of a much bigger picture with James Hay, it feels like the right time for me to move on and consider a new challenge.

“I hand over to Richard and wish him, his leadership team and all my colleagues, new and old, best wishes for the future.”

Nucleus said in a stock exchange statement: “While the Nucleus and James Hay platforms will continue to operate separately for the immediate future, and there is no current change to the operations or services of either, the strategic review will help to inform the creation of a leading financial planning and retirement-focused adviser platform, developed from the best features of both existing platforms.

“This will include a comprehensive range of tax wrappers with a leading SIPP with enhanced drawdown capability, alongside providing value to advisers through exploiting data, deeply integrating with practice management systems, and having digital customer journeys at its heart …

While the full group review remains ongoing, several decisions have already been reached and the board is today providing an update from the initial phase …

“After extensive consideration, in recognition of Nucleus’ trusted and leading brand with advisers in the UK platform market, we are today confirming that the Nucleus name has been chosen to be used for the group’s combined future platform proposition for advisers. 

“A new visual style to support this decision will be implemented in the future in line with the group’s development plans, when finalised.”

James Hay CEO Richard Rowney will now assume day-to-day responsibility for the leadership of the enlarged group.

“Richard will take on the responsibilities of David Ferguson, Nucleus’ departing CEO who has decided to move on and pursue other opportunities, after a period of handover,” said Nucleus.

“David will be standing down from the Nucleus board with immediate effect.”

Richard Warner will become chief operating officer (COO) of the combined group, Alex Kovach will be chief commercial officer (CCO), and Alison Longbottom will be chief people officer (CPO).

Warner, Kovach and Longbottom will not be joining the Nucleus board of directors.

Other executive roles are still being considered and will be announced in due course.

Rowney said: “We remain very excited by the combination of these two great businesses and are fully focused on taking the best of both firms forward as we create the leading retirement-focused adviser platform.

“The skills and talent within these organisations, combined with the significant scale of our combined group will enable greater investment in products, price and service, and ultimately meet the developing needs of advisers and their clients.

“Today’s announcement is a significant milestone, enabling us to harness what is best from both businesses, on behalf of our customers.

“I would like to reiterate our great respect and admiration for what David Ferguson has achieved as a founder of Nucleus, and on behalf of everyone I would like to wish him all the very best for the future.”