In statements released earlier this month, both Tilney and Smith & Williamson confirmed the two are in merger talks. Tilney’s statement said: “Following recent media speculation, the Board of Tilney confirms that it is in exclusive discussions with Smith & Williamson about a potential combination of our businesses.

“A merger of Tilney and Smith & Williamson would create a market-leading, integrated UK wealth management and professional services group with over £45 billion of assets under management.

“These discussions are ongoing and there can be no certainty that a transaction will proceed. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”

Smith & Williamson’s statement followed a comment from its Canadian shareholder AGF Management which confirmed the merger discussions. Smith & Williamson said: "Further to the announcement by AGF Management Ltd to the Toronto Stock Exchange… [on 18 August] regarding its shareholding in Smith & Williamson, the Board of Smith & Williamson confirms that it has received an approach and is in exclusive discussions about a combination of its business with Tilney Group.

“The respective Boards believe that a merger of Smith & Williamson and Tilney has the potential to deliver significant benefits to the clients, employees, partners and shareholders of both businesses and create a market-leading, integrated, UK wealth management and professional services firm. Discussions remain ongoing and at this stage there is no certainty that a transaction will proceed. A further announcement will be made in due course.”

As recently as July, Smith & Williamson was saying that it was still on course with its plans for an initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange although not before 2020. It is worth bearing in mind this is not the first time these two players have danced together. Back in 2017 Tilney attempted to derail a proposed merger between Rathbones and Smith & Williamson with its own all cash offer. Neither the Rathbones merger nor the Tilney cash offer came to anything that time around.

Tilney is an investment and financial planning group that offers a range of services including financial planning, investment management and advice and, through its Bestinvest service, an online platform for those who prefer to manage their own investments.

Smith & Williamson is an independently owned professional and financial services group offering management, financial advisory and accountancy services to private clients, professional practices and mid-to-large corporates.