Headquartered in Guernsey, Oak Group is quickly growing scale – in both team and assets – after a number of acquisitions. It is now looking to expand even further and show off its brand. Patrick Brusnahan speaks to Stuart Platt-Ransom, the firm’s group chief executive
After the selling his previous business in 2014, and the banking crisis in 2008, Stuart Platt-Ransom saw a problem: “The banking crisis really dried up the banks’ appetite for lending.”
The result was Oak Group, a combination of a business in Jersey, Consortia Partnership, the Oak Trust Group (present in Guernsey, Malta and Mauritius) and the Isle of Man-based Kreston IOM.
Patrick Brusnahan (PB): Where does Oak Group see itself in the UK wealth management and private banking sector?
Stuart Platt-Ransom (SP): We’ve ended up with a business in six jurisdictions: Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Malta, Mauritius and Luxembourg. We’ve got about 200 employees, and we’ve got over £20bn ($26.6bn) of assets under administration. In the long term, we will get growth by acquisition and organically.
We have got a number of other targets that we’re currently working with to grow our business. The big difference between me and my competitors is I’m not under the same sort of pressure as if I was leading a private equity-backed consolidator where I really have to get those returns back [in the short term]. I can invest in people, I can invest in systems, I can invest back, so we can really give clients the good experience.
PB: Is everything going to be rebranded under the Oak Group name?
SP: Yes, we are fully rebranded now. I’m also currently looking at a business in Asia to buy which is in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Samoa of all places. And it has an Indian Ocean business in the Seychelles and Mauritius, so it enhances what we’re doing. There’s very clearly a market in Asia, and it’s actually quite a difficult market to break into.
PB: How important is this all under this one brand, considering you’re acquiring historic companies? Would you feel the benefits of that rather than rebranding?
SP: I’m going to IPO one company; I can’t IPO six or seven different names. There’s been an awful lot of M&A and consolidation in the space. And now whilst the brand can be bought, we’ve taken the view that the Oak brand was a very strong one, and that’s the one we want to take to IPO.
PB: Do you have a target for acquisitions to end, or is it just buy, see what’s out there, and with no particular reason to stop?
SP: I don’t subscribe to the view that we should just constantly buy and get growth that way. And I also don’t subscribe to planting flag poles in every jurisdiction on Earth. I think there is enough arbitrage between different jurisdictions. Clients, frankly, favour different jurisdictions depending where they’re actually located, so it will be very, very organised with regards to that.