Financial Services

Published: February 13, 2020 | Updated: February 14, 2020

Target Dorset: City financial planning firm has county in sights for possible future expansion

Anthony Villis, Managing Director, First Wealth.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A top London-based financial planning firm is targeting Dorset for possible future expansion.

First Wealth, which was founded in 2009 and manages £330m of client assets, says it is interested in acquiring an existing similar firm in the county.

Managing Director Anthony Villis, who divides his time between Marylebone and his home in Branksome Park, Poole, said: “We want to build a bigger business and Dorset could be the key to that.

“I’m interested in working with like-minded financial planning firms, either on an exclusive basis or rebadging as First Wealth Dorset.

“We believe it would be reasonably straight-forward to integrate with our existing and proven systems and I’d be very happy to talk with anyone interested.”

Anthony, 45, was born in Frome, Somerset, but moved to Wool at an early age, attending The Purbeck School in Wareham.

After studying Economics at the University of Bath he joined Chase de Vere as a trainee financial planner, aged 21.

“I was in a room of successful planners and it was a very steep learning curve,” said Anthony who is engaged to video producer Petra and has a five-year-old daughter, Lux.

In 2004 – and after securing promotion to Senior Account Manager in Chase de Vere’s London office – he packed up his job to travel the world.

During the course of 18 months he covered the globe, from Morocco to Bangkok and New Zealand to South Africa.

“It was the most amazing time and I had some incredible experiences,” he said.

Arriving back home Anthony vowed never to work in financial services again but ended up joining a chartered accountancy firm as a certified financial planner.

Three years later, he joined forces with former Chase de Vere colleague Robert Caplan to launch First Wealth.

“It was a brave decision because 2009 was a time of recession but it’s worked well for us and we’ve grown steadily over the years,” said Anthony.

Today First Wealth employs 15 people and has around 700 clients.

Anthony said: “We consider ourselves different to many other financial planners.

“We work across the disciplines of lifestyle planning, financial planning and advice, tax management and investment management to bring a holistic approach to client’s lifestyle and finances.

“We create a clear plan to help achieve aspirations and goals, put the plan into action and then track the progress. We’re as involved as a client wishes us to be in the management of the plan.”

Anthony, who was named Money Marketing Small Adviser of the Year in 2015 and also the UK’s Most Favourite IFA, said he loved Dorset and wanted First Wealth to have a presence in the county, if at all possible.

The business already counts St James Studio, the Bournemouth-based creative communications agency, headed by entrepreneur William St James, among its key suppliers.

Anthony said: “I grew up here, went to school here and now live here.

“It’s the most fantastic place to bring up our daughter and we feel very fortunate to live in Dorset.”