A professional services group launched two years ago to “shake up” the sector in Scotland has been sold to a larger expanding English rival.
Leeds-headquartered Progeny has acquired Rob Aberdein’s Moray Group in a deal that will see Mr Aberdein join the enlarged operation as chief commercial officer. Financial details were not disclosed.
In addition to the acquisition, Progeny has also established a commercial alliance with Moray Legal to allow the two businesses to work more closely together. This has been done in anticipation of the alternative business structure (ABS) licences soon due to be granted in the Scottish legal sector.
Moray expanded quickly in Scotland through the acquisition of Edinburgh’s Simpson & Marwick, Esson & Aberdein in Aberdeen, and Alston Law in Glasgow. Launching the business in September 2020, Mr Aberdein said Moray would “deliver the biggest shake-up to the Scottish legal scene in decades”.
With roots going back to 1981, Progeny has been on an accelerated acquisition programme since October 2021 when private equity investor Further Global Capital Management took a majority stake in the business. Existing capital partner LSG Holdings and Progeny’s senior management team, led by chief executive Neil Moles, also have what are described as “significant” stakes in the business.
Commenting on the deal yesterday, Mr Aberdein noted the “true commonality of purpose and principle” between Progeny and Morey.
“The legal and professional services sectors need new ideas, structures and ways of working if they’re to meet the needs of the modern client and workforce,” he said. “Progeny has led the way in disrupting these industries for the betterment of the sector and the clients within it and we’re delighted to be working more closely together.”
Mr Aberdein added: “When the era of alternative business structures arrives in Scotland, it will bring fresh thinking and opportunity, changing the sector landscape forever. This means we will be able to offer the client more by making it easier for them to do business with us, accessing legal, tax, wealth management, property and financial advice in one place.”
Progeny first entered the Scottish market with the acquisition of Innovate Financial Services in Edinburgh in February 2019. This was followed in April 2021 with a deal to take over Ayrshire-based Affinity Financial Planning, and the acquisition in July of this year of Edinburgh-based Balmoral Asset Management.
In June of this year, Progeny also announced plans to acquire The Fry Group, marking its expansion into international markets. Headquartered in West Sussex, Fry has offices in Belgium, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The expanded Progeny network will have £6.5 billion of assets under management by 250 staff across 11 UK offices, including approximately 70 employees of Morey.
Mr Moles said the deal will boost Progeny’s legal and professional services capacity to keep pace with expansion in the financial advice and asset management side of the business.
“Aligning with Moray will help us to do this, ensuring we deliver an exceptional, joined-up service to clients while also giving us the innovative potential and far-sighted view of the future that will propel us forward in Scotland, the UK and internationally,” he said.
“We are also underlining our commitment to Scotland and expanding our presence here.”
Moray launched with a core legal practice and was building upon this with the addition of other professional services such as estate agency, property letting, accountancy and financial services. Prior to launching Moray, Mr Aberdein oversaw significant growth for Scottish law firm Aberdein Considine before then becoming the youngest-ever equity partner at English law firm Walker Morris.
“Make no mistake, our intention is to be disruptive and we know that won’t make us popular with everyone,” he said at the time of the launch. “But this is long overdue.
“Others who promised change have ended up turning into exactly the kind of firm they set out to displace. That won’t happen with Aberdeins.”