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WH Ireland head of wealth management Stephen Ford exits

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WH Ireland’s head of wealth management Stephen Ford has the left the business to pursue new opportunities.

Ford (pictured) joined the DFM in March 2019, one of several heavy-hitter recruits tasked with turning the then-unprofitable business around. Known for his reputation as a City fixer-upper, he led a two-year transformation programme at his former employer Brewin Dolphin.

After years of restructuring efforts, including aggressive cost-cutting measures, WH Ireland posted a £1m profit in 2021, its first profit in five years, off the back of strong revenue growth. Assets under management rose 40% over the period to £2.1bn.

Ford said it was the “right moment” for him to step down as he and his family relocate to Devon.

I am proud of what has been achieved within wealth management over the past three years and I am extremely grateful for all the support I have received from within the business during that time,” he said. “I wish the firm all good fortune and will watch with interest as it achieves its ambitious growth plans.”

UBS veteran Michael Bishop has been named as Ford’s successor. He will spearhead the next phase of the wealth management arm’s development, with the aim of growing discretionary funds under management to £3bn at a 20% margin.

WH Ireland said Bishop has “significant experience” of building and running substantial wealth management businesses. He was a founding partner of UBS’ UK domestic wealth management business in 2000 and was responsible for developing the Swiss firm’s institutional family office business and ultra high net worth teams across Northern Europe.

WH Ireland CEO Philip Wale said Bishop’s combination of growing businesses organically and through acquisitions was also a “strong fit” for WH Ireland at this stage in its trajectory.

Wale added: “I would also like to thank Stephen Ford for his significant contribution to the turnaround at WH Ireland, having made great strides in reducing risk whilst establishing a robust platform on which to grow. He should be proud of what he has helped to achieve and WH Ireland is very grateful to him for his invaluable contribution to this phase of its development .”

Ford will remain a director with WH Ireland until 31 January 2022 to ensure a smooth handover of the wealth management business to Bishop.

See also: Stephen Ford: ‘We will absolutely be acquiring in the next couple of years’