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Norwich law firm Birkett Westhorp & Long has recruited the managing director of the Norwich & Peterborough Building Society's stockbroking arm to head a new investment division.
Richard Larner joins the firm on 1 November as director of investment. Four other appointments are planned to complete the new team.
Larner will directly manage private client and trust portfolios in a shift away from the firm placing advisory and discretionary asset management with outside stockbroking firms.
"We will be acting on an execution only basis, and the firm's dealings with the market will be done through third party wholesale brokers," he says.
The firm will be applying for full membership of the Association of Solicitor Investment Managers (Aism).
Larner was managing director of Norwich-based stockbrokers Waters Lunniss, a wholly owned subsidiary of Norwich and Peterborough, for over four years.
The aim of the investment division will be to "integrate all the services we offer to private clients for investment, pensions and financial planning", says the firm's managing partner, Robert Wright. The firm is planning to scale down its work in the mortgage field, however.
Larner says his responsibility will include providing portfolio management for existing clients and generating new business.
"There's a future for those firms of solicitors prepared to buy in the skills and set up a properly resourced portfolio management service, when they have substantial private client and trust business," he says.
"I agree it's not for every solicitors' firm. You have to have a critical mass. But for the larger regional practices, there's a lot of scope."
Meanwhile, Asim member firm THESIS, the investment management arm of West Sussex solicitors Thomas Eggar Verrall Bowles, has appointed another investment manager.
Richard Sandys-Renton will join the firm's Chichester office. Most recently he was associate director with Private Fund Managers.