Morningstar Issues Professional Services Rankings Guide, AIM Edition for the Fourth Quarter of 2011; Releases Four-Year AIM Rankings Anniversary Review

London - 31 October 2011

Morningstar UK, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Morningstar, Inc., a leading provider of independent investment research, has today published its Q4 2011 Morningstar Professional Services Rankings Guide, Alternative Investment Market (AIM) Edition, in association with Fasken Martineau, a leading law firm. The guide also includes a four-year anniversary review.

Highlights of the four-year anniversary review include:

•  Crowe Clark Whitehill (formerly Horwath) makes the largest four-year gains among the auditors; Grant Thornton holds its first place spot;

•  Threadneedle Communications steals a march among the financial PR companies, climbing from 17th place to second; FTI Consulting (formerly Financial Dynamics) moves from third place to first;

•  Memery Crystal delivers the best four-year performance among the law firms, moving from eighth place to first;

•  Cenkos Securities performs best among the nominated advisors (Nomads), rising from 19th place to second; seven of the original top 20 Nomads are now unranked; and 

• FinnCap goes from unranked to joint-first place in the stockbroker rankings and now shares the lead with long-term leader Seymour Pierce

“The rankings are intended to assist both new and established businesses as they seek specialist advice in support of their unique growth strategies,” said Andrew Parson, publisher of the Morningstar Professional Services Rankings Guide. “However, the rankings also help us to observe the growth and development of the firms who advise those businesses. In particular, through today’s four-year review, we can observe several significant growth stories among the advisers, most notably in the formidable rise in the rankings of FinnCap, Cenkos Securities, Crowe Clark Whitehill, Threadneedle Communications, and Memery Crystal. These firms, and others, have demonstrated remarkable stories of their own these past four years, delivering a set of rankings quite different to those in our first AIM edition in 2007.”

Highlights of the Q4 2011 Morningstar Professional Services Rankings Guide, AIM Edition include: 

• Crowe Clark Whitehill, in ninth place, continues its ascent with a sixth positive quarter in a row and an addition of four AIM clients for a revised client tally of 29. The auditor is closely followed by Nexia Smith & Williamson, which gained three clients this quarter and remains in 10th place with a new tally of 27. Second-placed BDO LLP added a further 24 AIM clients to achieve a new client total of 144 this quarter, although its gain was mostly a result of consolidation of the number of AIM clients that the firm has across all arms of the BDO business. Fourth-placed PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, whose client tallies were similarly consolidated in the previous rankings, gained five clients this quarter to achieve a new total of 113. Grant Thornton UK LLP remains in first place, despite a three-client loss that reduced the firm’s AIM client tally to 175. 

• Among the financial PR companies, Threadneedle Communications Ltd again made client gains this quarter, making it the fourth quarter in a row for the firm. This quarter, the firm achieved the largest upswing among its peers, with six new clients taking Threadneedle from third place to second and a revised client tally of 69. Long-term leader FTI Consulting (formerly Financial Dynamics) added one new client this quarter, taking its AIM client tally to 77. Elsewhere, only a handful of single-client gains were seen among the remaining top 20 financial PR firms. Hansard Communications and Redleaf Polhill lost six and five clients, respectively.

• Law firm Memery Crystal extends its lead with three additional clients this quarter to increase the firm’s AIM client tally to 50, the only law firm to achieve this milestone total since April 2010. Second-placed Pinsent Masons LLP also gained three clients in the quarter to achieve a new tally of 46. Elsewhere, the other strong performers are found in the middle of the rankings table, with Fasken Martineau LLP climbing two spots to end the quarter in ninth place and with an improved AIM client tally of 30. Appleby moves up three spots to close the quarter in 10th place with 29 clients. 

• Among the Nomads, the quarterly rankings present more AIM-client gains than losses among the top 20. Numis Securities achieved the most client gains of the quarter, with five additional clients to move the Nomad from 13th place to ninth, with a revised AIM client tally of 36. Northland Capital Partners, mid-place in the rankings, also had a strong quarter, with four new clients moving the nomad from 13th place to 11th. Panmure Gordon (UK) and Grant Thornton UK LLP, in joint sixth and eighth place, respectively, gained three new clients apiece. Evolution Securities lost five clients to end the quarter with 43, and moved from 5th place to 6th.

• For the first time, FinnCap steps into first place among stockbrokers advising AIM-listed companies, with just one additional client in the quarter edging the broker from second place into joint first, with 70 clients, alongside Seymour Pierce. This is the 11th quarter out of 13 that FinnCap has achieved client gains. Other climbers this quarter include Numis Securities Ltd, with six additional AIM clients moving the broker up from sixth place to fourth, with a revised AIM client tally of 55. In 12th place (up from 15th), Northland Capital Partners added five clients this quarter, reversing the firm’s fiveclient loss in the previous quarter. Shore Capital, in 11th place, also had a strong quarter, gaining four clients to achieve a new tally of 37.

• In the registrar rankings, whilst there is no change to the overall rankings, the quarter showed the best performance from the registrars since rankings for registrars began in July 2008; four of the top five registrars achieved client gains. Third-placed Share Registrars Ltd achieved the largest client gain with six new AIM clients in the quarter, taking the firm’s tally to 84. Second-placed Computershare Investor Services PLC also had a strong quarter, with five new clients taking its AIM client tally to 318. Fourthplaced Neville Registrars and fifth-placed Equiniti Ltd each gained one additional AIM client during the quarter, taking their respective tallies to 74 and 31. Rankings leader Capita Registrars experienced the only quarterly client losses, ending the quarter with eight clients fewer and a revised tally of 585 clients.

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