Maidstone firm Whitehead Monckton has set up an investment management department.

The 14-partner firm has hired an ex-stockbroker as director of investment services and an operations manager to man the department.

It has also become a member of the Association of Solicitor Investment Managers (Asim).

Richard Lewis joins the firm from Edinburgh Fund Managers where he was previously director of a subsidiary company, Private Fund Managers.

George Nicholls, who heads the investment department at Whitehead Monckton and is compliance officer, said the firm first discussed going down the investment route a year ago.

"We had a good traditional private client base," he said, adding that the firm did a lot of investment management through a stockbroker. The arrival of rolling settlements alerted the firm to the opportunity to take the work in-house, he said, and they wanted to take on the traditional "men of affairs" role.

Nichols admitted that it was expensive to set up such a department "but [the firm] regarded it as an investment for the future".

He said Whitehead Monckton had set about creating the department in a proactive way, establishing a direct link to clearing house Pershing Securities to provide the firm with back office facilities and nominee arrangements.

"We felt it was worthwhile making the investment now," he said.

He added that the firm now had £8 million under management. "We are doing this to provide a more personal service to clients and are looking to build on our client links," he said.