Ross Trustees merges with ITS to form Independent Governance Group

Combined firm will become the UK’s largest trusteeship and governance services provider

Jonathan Stapleton
clock • 3 min read
Andrew Bradshaw: The combination of Ross Trustees and ITS creates a governance powerhouse
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Andrew Bradshaw: The combination of Ross Trustees and ITS creates a governance powerhouse

Ross Trustees Services and Independent Trustee Services (ITS) have announced a merger to form a combined business called Independent Governance Group (IGG).

The deal will see Ross Trustees acquire a 100% stake in ITS. The Ross Trustees and ITS brands will continue to operate under the IGG umbrella brand for a short period until full integration of the two businesses is completed later this year.

The combined business will have 119 employees as well as a total of 437 appointments and over £340bn of assets under governance - making it the largest professional pensions trusteeship and governance services firm in the UK.

Financial details of the transaction are undisclosed but private equity investor LDC - which invested in Ross Trustees in 2020 - has provided additional funding to support the transaction and will become the private equity partner of the combined group.

IGG will be headquartered in a single London based office in the "near future" and said it plans to further grow its footprint through the expansion of existing regional hubs across the UK.

As part of the combination, Ross Trustees chief executive Andrew Bradshaw will assume the role of chief executive of IGG. Chris Martin, the executive chair of ITS, will take on the same role at IGG.

IGG's board will also comprise of group chief financial officer Anthony Livingstone and chief risk officer Kate Hardingham.

The firm said its vision is to be the "provider of choice" for colleagues, trustees, scheme sponsors and the advisory community - creating a comprehensive proposition to support and deliver value for clients.

Bradshaw said: "The leadership team and shareholders of the two businesses are absolutely delighted with the combination of our two client-centric businesses.

"We are hugely excited to launch IGG, which immediately becomes the UK's leading provider of professional pensions trusteeship and governance services at a time of accelerating demand from employers and scheme trustees. As two people-first businesses, the combination of Ross Trustees and ITS creates a governance powerhouse through a much deeper pool of talent and resources plus a strengthened proposition for clients."

Martin added: "We all look forward to working closely together as we integrate our respective teams and service offerings, bringing them together to provide further value and great outcomes for our clients and scheme members.

"The merger will allow us to grow our standing as an employer of choice in the industry. I share Andrew's enthusiasm and excitement about the future for IGG and we all look forward to realising its full potential as the leading provider of governance services over the months and years ahead."

LDC investment director Phil Hinson added: "This is a significant transaction for the pensions industry, joining two complementary businesses that each have strong track records to form a leading player. We look forward to supporting the leadership team at IGG as it continues to grow the group organically and through acquisition."

The deal comes after Ross Trustees announced it had acquired Clark Benefit Consulting (CBC) Pension Services last August and follows a wave of consolidation in the market, including Zedra's acquisition of PTL last January.

Isio's professional independent trustee survey last year found the 12 largest firms in the market represented over 2,000 pension schemes and were responsible for over £1,150bn in assets.

Professional trustees: Number of appointments and scheme assets (£bn)

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Source: Isio Professional Independent Trustee Survey 2022

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