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Towergate buys John Charcol

Towergate Financial, the financial advisory business of the Towergate Partnership has acquired John Charcol.

Under the terms of the deal, all John Charcol staff and directors will be making the move to Towergate Financial. 

Mortgage Strategy exclusively revealed on Monday that Towergate was looking to buy the brokerage.

John Charcol CEO John Garfield will work closely with Towergate Financial CEO Ian Darby to grow the business alongside his current management team.



Darby was appointed chief executive at Towergate Financial in October 2008.

Darby spent sixteen years at brokerage John Charcol becoming the company’s chairman following the Bradford & Bingley buyout in 2004.

Towergate Financial’s growth strategy is to establish a high net worth mortgage advisory proposition to complement its private client and corporate solutions businesses

Towergate Financial is part of the Towergate Partnership, Europe’s largest independently owned insurance intermediary. 

Towergate’s business consists of a number of specialist underwriting agencies and regional brokers providing a wide range of niche and general insurance products to individuals and businesses.


Darby says: “We believe there is an excellent fit between our business and John Charcol.  John Charcol has an incredibly strong brand in the mortgage market built over many years, based on top quality advisers and great advice.  We jointly have a great opportunity to offer financial planning and insurance solutions to Charcol’s clients and vice versa.”



Garfield says joining forces with the team at Towergate Financial will provide its business and people with excellent opportunities to work with Towergate’s businesses to its mutual benefit and to thrive in what is a very exciting time for the mortgage market.


Peter Cullum, executive chairman of Towergate, says: “This is another great acquisition for Towergate which fits our strategy of brand leadership in our specialist fields. 

“We already boast the number one network, software and payment protection propositions in addition to leading high net worth general insurance businesses ranging from aviation to medical practitioners.  John Charcol is undoubtedly the leading brand in the high net worth space and is a business which has built a strong reputation for expertise and arranging mortgages for wealthy individuals.

“The combination of these two businesses will form an unrivalled capability in the specialist high net worth market.”

The firm has more than 100 financial planners and advisers and has acquired 11 businesses in the past two years.

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  • bob 27th February 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Im just glad Llyods Tsb Didn’t buy them like hbos…just imagine the pain in trying to come up with an acronym for that lot!?!

  • bob 27th February 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Im just glad Llyods Tsb Didn’t buy them like hbos…just imagine the pain in trying to come up with an acronym for that lot!?!

  • My job interview with Charcol 3m ago... 25th February 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I had an inteview with John Garfield (in the staff canteen now his office)for a mortgage broker position around 3m ago.

    I specifically asked Garfield if there were any imminent changes to Charcol following recent press about losses and accounts late again.

    He just kept waffling on about how his top guys earn six figures, how Charcol are so well known with boutique lenders, how his top guy is a Nigerian adviser, how he lives in France in a £xm mansion, etc…and totally evaded the questions.

    I politely declined the position – £14k basic, £120k annual commission target, 6 day working week, tiny offices in Holborn and it was the failure to offer me a drink on arrival that broke the camel’s back.

    Good Luck to them, if all Charcol clients dont buy insurance, they are both rogered.

  • Salil Chaudhari 25th February 2010 at 11:32 am

    It would be agreat market test in this most adverse economic situation to see whether there is synergy in the acqusition.If they pull it off, and I wish them luck, they would the envy of the Financial Services Industry.

  • James Rose 24th February 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Exciting time for the mortgage market? Someone needs to get out more!

  • Lisa H 24th February 2010 at 8:02 am

    I wish every one at JC the very best. They were a good company to work for but times move on!!

  • keith 23rd February 2010 at 11:58 pm

    i have to say, im not at all surprised. As an ex employee, I could see the way the business was going. too many old school methods and JG didnt get with the times. The sales director was shockingly bad, commanded no respect. It was more like an old boys club. Too many of the staffgetting paid too much for doing too little. Ray Boulger was JC – the rest of the team. including the marketing director were useless. Good riddance.

  • Matt 23rd February 2010 at 5:47 pm

    ‘Buys’ ? Surely you mean ‘bails out’ !!!

  • Mark Sutton 23rd February 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Reports elsewhere suggest that JC was in the hands of the administrators when bought by Towergate. That seems to have gone virtually unnoticed? Does seem to be the old boys network coming into play. Don’t like the way companies like JC do back room deals with lenders that push out the ordinary broker, so I for one would not have been sad to see them go.

  • PSP3000 23rd February 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Furcoat no knickers? LOL
    Long live Ray Boulger

  • Arvin 23rd February 2010 at 4:35 pm

    I am going to wait another 5 years when it will back on the market and JG has no more friends to buy it, then buy it for it’s true worth…..nothing!

  • N Moore 23rd February 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Regarding James comment. Are you sure both companies are solvent? Towergate Financial is now following it being brought back under the Towergate Partnership following administration in June 2009 but why have JC sold and what was the intended use of John Charcol 2010?

  • stuart 23rd February 2010 at 4:18 pm

    I wonder if JG will be allowed to smoke in the new offices?

  • Furcoat no knickers? 23rd February 2010 at 3:44 pm

    If not for the spectacular success of the deal with Pincus and some more loose change collected on the BB deal. Charcol would have gone the way of Chase De Vere long since.

    Even if it is last man standing the name of John Charcol will be retained while Darby and Garfield are involved, as millionaires that is!

    For the moment at least the business survives off past reputation maintained to a large extent by the ever present industry guru, Ray Boulger.

  • Dave Jones 23rd February 2010 at 2:59 pm

    It’s great, Charcol can, again, go on a recruitment drive to bring in dozens of Brokers that are not up to the job while someone else is paying the bill.

    How did that work out for Bradford and Bingley. Oh yes I remember they lost £95m+ on the purchase and sale and bankrolled the company while it employed and then sacked dozens of people.

    There’s one born every minute.

  • Graeme 23rd February 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Stuart’s comment did make me laugh. Unfortunately JC has been poorly managed and brought to its knees. It was a good brand but I doubt anybody could say that now. My best guess is that Towergate want the client list for cross selling rather than the business itself, though they have tried that winning formula before and failed on numerous times. i hope it works out but I would be fearful if I was a consultant at JC especially the self employed ones as the business risk to income generation in that area will stand out like a sore thumb and Towergate would not I guess want to expose itself to that fandango nightmare waiting to happen!!

  • How do they do it? 23rd February 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Try this at home…..stand in a bucket, then grab hold of the handle and lift yourself! Yep, impossible, unless you are maybe John Garfield or Ian Darby.

    The genius of recycling a business which trades on its name rather then profits….brilliant.

    Loved by all particularly Christopher Rodrigues who used £100m of Bradford & Bingley money to buy JC and 4 years later sell back to the boys for £10m. Another very astute businessman who the last I heard was chairman of VisitBritain…. of course, why not.

  • stuart 23rd February 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I wonder if JG will be allowed to smoke in the new offices?

  • Marc Open 23rd February 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Why so negative, it’s good to see Charcol in safe hands with the financial resources of Towergate behind them, John, Ian and Walter are good guys and have achieved more in this business than many of the “recently showed up” media junkies will in a life time, good luck to you all.

  • James Lindon-Travers 23rd February 2010 at 2:29 pm

    At least both the companies involved are solvent – unlike Network Data, Mortgage Times and the like. I wish them luck!

  • James Lindon-Travers 23rd February 2010 at 2:28 pm

    At least both the companies involved are solvent – unlike Network Data, Mortgage Times and the like. I wish them luck!

  • John Golf 23rd February 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I would be doubtful if this was a big pay day as the company has no real assets and a large debt to its directors.

  • mike 23rd February 2010 at 2:24 pm

    So John Garfield off loads charcoal once again , and oh look, Ian Darby, who worked for him at charcol and Bradford and bingley , is the one to bail him out. Talk about old boys network. Why would anyone buy a defunct broking business just for its name, when there are many easier ways to set up a broking arm if thats truely what Towergate wanted to do.

  • PSP3000 23rd February 2010 at 2:15 pm

    AH ! the cycle continues……Nice that john and Ian are working together again, just like the good old days. How many times can a company be bought and sold ! Oh well another big payday for the Directors !