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The history of Rees Pollock: from EY spin out to ‘Billion Dollar Club’ hedge fund clients

18 months since the acquisition of Rees Pollock, Phil Vipond reflects on the firm’s history and the role the team now play within Blick Rothenberg.

Rees Pollock was set up by Simon Rees and Andy Pollock in 1990, when the merger of Arthur Young and Ernst & Whinney took place, forming Ernst & Young, now EY. This created the opportunity for a group of Partners and their teams to spin out and establish an independent firm specialising in the needs of small growing businesses.

Those Partners recognised that the then ‘Big Six’ were increasingly focused on the largest FTSE100 businesses and listed companies, leaving space in the market for a firm offering high quality work to the owner-managed sector.

As a small, owner-managed business itself, the firm had a common outlook with many of its entrepreneurial clients, many of whom were taking a similar route in leaving established firms behind to start new ventures.

One of the clients that came with the firm from EY at the outset was in the financial services sector. The hedge fund industry expanded in London in the 1990s and 2000s. Other firms were slow to react to the opportunity, but Rees Pollock went on to develop a major specialism and soon became identified as a key player in the market.

Our knowledge of complex Financial Conduct Authority regulations gives our team a key ‘unique selling point’ as it’s important for these firms to have an advisor who understands how this all works and who can identify potential issues. These regulated firms have their own language and jargon and a common set of legal structures regarding the relationships between the funds they manage and the ways that the managers are remunerated. Equally, the personal tax of the managers is often complex due to these same remuneration policies which are designed to ensure that the interests of managers and investors are aligned.

According to hedge fund intelligence provider HFM, we are fifth in the world in terms of the number of ‘BDC clients’ – those are hedge fund managers in the ‘Billion Dollar Club’ i.e. those which manage at least $1bn of money.

As a result of this success, the firm grew steadily to be around 30 people by 2000, 50 by 2010 and 69 by 2021.

Although we have brought in full and part-qualified staff at all levels over the years, we have always recruited graduates and school leavers and most of the team trained with us. As the last of our founding Partners retired last year, our current Partner group of eight  reflects our history, with seven who originally joined the firm as Graduate Trainees and one who joined as a Manager.

Throughout the team we have many people who have been with us for five years, ten years, fifteen years, or more, which allows us to offer a level of continuity that is highly valued by our clients.

On 30 September 2019, in our 29th year of business, Rees Pollock was acquired by Blick Rothenberg. That was also the point that I took over heading up the team.

Since the acquisition we have been able to bring some key specialist experience to Blick Rothenberg, particularly across financial services and I’m excited to see what the future holds as we continue to build on our client base across this key sector.

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