Brewin still upbeat after profit dive

STOCKBROKER and investment manager Brewin Dolphin yesterday struck a positive chord for the sector as it declared markets were over the worst of the economic turbulence, despite posting a 38 per cent fall in interim pre-tax profits.<br /><br />Brewin Dolphin said pre-tax profit for the six months to the end of March fell to &pound;13.6m after redundancy costs, from &pound;21.8m the previous year, while total managed funds fell 18 per cent to &pound;16.3bn on a like-for-like basis.<br /><br />But chairman Jamie Matheson insisted there was light at the end of the tunnel, saying: &ldquo;We have lived through a time that saw us experience the unimaginable and I am reasonably confident that we are through the worst.&rdquo;<br /><br />Brewin Dolphin, which has axed 100 jobs since the last quarter of 2008 in an effort to cut costs, said the performance of its investment management division had been &ldquo;robust&rdquo;, with income ahead by 5 per cent to &pound;101.2m and operating profits shrinking just 6 per cent to &pound;16.6m.<br /><br />But this was offset by weakness in the investment banking unit, which Matheson said had been &ldquo;hard hit by market conditions and in particular the absence of corporate activity in the small and mid cap arena&rdquo;. The division saw its income more than halve to &pound;3.5m as it sank into the red, posting an operating loss of &pound;0.8m.<br /><br />Matheson described the results as &ldquo;resilient&rdquo; in tough market conditions.<br /><br /><strong>BREWIN&rsquo;S BOARDROOM BIG HITTERS<br /><br />JAMIE MATHESON:</strong><br />Executive chairman<br />Matheson, 54, joined Brewin Dolphin in 1996 as a divisional director in Glasgow. He joined the board in 2002, when he was responsible for the group&rsquo;s corporate broking activities until 2005.<br /><br />Matheson, who in his spare time enjoys to sail, was a non-executive director of Scottish Radio Holdings from 2000 until its takeover by media giant Emap. He currently also sits as a non-executive director on the board of Bluehone Aim VCT2 and media group SMG. <br /><br /><strong>DAVID MCCORKELL:</strong><br />Head of investment management<br />McCorkell, 53, started his career working for his family&rsquo;s grain business in Northern Ireland. He subsequently entered the world of business by joining Irish stockbroker Bell Lawrie in 1986, becoming a director in 1989. He became a director of Brewin Dolphin in 2003, before being appointed head of investment management in October 2007.<br /><br />He is married with two children and, true to his roots, is an avid follower of Irish rugby.<br /><br /><strong>ANGELA KNIGHT:</strong><br />Non-executive director<br />Knight, 57, is currently one of the most powerful women in the City in her role as chief executive of the British Bankers Association.<br /><br />A keen walker and skier, Knight was also previously chief executive of the Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers between 1997 and 2006, and prior to that worked in politics. She was elected Conservative MP for Erewash in 1992 and was economic secretary to the Treasury from 1995 to 1997.