UK mid-tier firm Smith & Williamson has reported a record
profit before tax of £31.2 million ($54.4 million) in the year
ended 30 April 2008. This represents growth of 23 percent, which
the firm said was due to strong performances by its investment
management and banking, and tax and business service teams.

Smith & Williamson’s operating income grew 13 percent to
£170.3 million and the firm was able to offer shareholders a final
dividend of 17 pence per share, which increased the annual dividend
by 24 percent to 20.5 pence per share.

“I think what really stands out is the performance of our
private client investment management business, which grew funds
under management by 4 percent against the decline in the market of
4 percent so we were particularly pleased about that,” Smith &
Williamson chairman Gareth Pearce said. “I think the important
stuff is that we maintained a good operating performance while we
went on investing in our future.”

Of the core service lines, the firm noted that personal finance
and wealth management generated £81.6 million, tax work produced
£32.2 and audit and accounting services generated revenue of £24.7
million. Corporate recovery earned £11.4 million.

A year of expansion

Pearce said the acquisition of Irish firm Oliver Freaney &
Company, the integration of a new team in Bristol and the recent
opening of a Birmingham office were highlights for the firm. The
Birmingham office will provide investment management and financial
services but the firm plans to eventually build it into a full
service office in coming years.

Pearce said that although Smith & Williamson is pleased with
its geographical spread at present, the firm would like to expand
its presence in the north of England when the economic climate
improves.

“I think we would like a base in the north of England and
whether that will be in Manchester or Leeds very much depends on
the opportunities,” he said.

Pearce does not expect the firm to make any significant profit
in the coming financial year. He said executing on recent
investments while steering the firm through the economic downturn
will be a core focus.