Vertem is a North East-based specialist stockbroker. CEO John Dance tells the story of the business and how it helps investors regionwide

How did Vertem start?

Whilst attending an Entrepreneur’s Forum conference nine years ago, I had a sudden inspiration that led me to develop a fresh and dynamic approach to stockbroking. Frustrated by years of ‘following the herd’ at large investment firms, I joined forces with Gary Stockdale, and Vertem was born – a very different
stockbroker. Together we worked on our own analytical process, identifying value in shares that the market may have missed. And we proved that finding the right investment opportunities, and building portfolios with exciting, original ideas was the key to success. Today we hold funds worth over £300m.

Tell us about your different approach?

In a nutshell, size doesn’t matter. Whilst most of the larger investment houses can only consider larger companies when investing in stocks and shares, we scour the whole of the market. Our team of expert investment analysts – all based in the North East – perform in-depth equity research, using our own forecast modelling and proprietary valuation techniques on over 500 UK stocks. This enables us to identify and invest in the most attractive companies, across the entire market spectrum for our clients, at any given time. We look at every option, including undervalued companies which we consider to have real potential for growth and the greatest returns.

So why is Vertem attractive to the private investor?

We’re not here to offer financial planning advice. Instead, as dedicated specialist stockbrokers, we aim to deliver enhanced
returns on your investments. Private investors are always on the lookout for the next ‘best’ idea, the stock others have missed, the undervalued situation that will provide growth and, yes, excitement. That’s what we do. We use our robust investment process and specialist analysts to identify the opportunities that rarely even hit the radar screens of the big houses. Don’t get me wrong, we are not a ‘small cap’ boutique, our methodology and process is proven across the scale – allowing us to also invest in large caps, funds, fixed interest and even derivatives.

Give me an example of how your approach can benefit the client?

In 1989 a Newcastle-based company called Sage floated on the stock market. A great many local investors bought shares in the company and over the years made quite exceptional returns. Sage was valued at £20m when it floated, it is now valued at over £7bn. If a company of Sage’s initial size were to come to the market today, investors at the ‘larger’ houses will not be buying any shares for their portfolios. That’s because it won’t be on their radar screens, for reasons of size if nothing else. Vertem does not work this way. If we like the business and consider the shares to be of value, assessed by our usual analytical processes, we will invest.

Why are you based in the North East rather than London?

This region breeds talented people and we have invested a great deal of time to develop the right blend of youth and experience. We’ve recruited bright graduates from local universities, particularly Northumbria University, whilst also bringing in genuinely experienced wealth management professionals such as Vinay Bedi – who has been advising high net worth individuals for more than 30 years. Put simply, our clients benefit from the specialist service and all-round expertise of idea generators, portfolio managers and analysts – backed up by the rigorous processes and systems you would expect in the City.

Who are your typical clients?

We specialise in creating bespoke, flexible and exciting investment portfolios for professional clients, business owners, private individuals, charities and pension funds. Being based locally is a massive advantage because we can meet people face to face and therefore gain a genuine understanding of their investment needs.

Meet the team:

John Dance, CEO

As founder and principal of Vertem, John began his career at Wise Speke (now Brewin Dolphin) in 1996. He’s worked for international banks including Merrill Lynch and ABN Amro and, since launching Vertem, has built strong relationships with a number of independent financial advisors, creating investment solutions for their clients. John’s strength is making sense of the economic and corporate outlook and translating it into sensible portfolios. He holds a number of industry qualifications including the CII Certificate in Discretionary Investment Management plus the CISI Diploma in Investment Advice and Masters in Wealth Management.

James Flintoft, head of portfolio management

James, head of portfolio management, was Vertem’s first graduate from Northumbria University’s Finance and Investment degree, joining in 2012. He has a natural intuition for the investment world and is incredibly adept at conducting detailed analysis and modelling of financial statements, which can unearth potentially over-optimistic or pessimistic forecasts being discounted into market prices. James is a CFA® charterholder and an invaluable member of the Vertem team.

Gary Stockdale, head of investment research

Gary is a co-founder and head of investment research at Vertem and has worked in investment management for nearly 20 years, including time at Barclays Wealth Management and latterly as assistant director at Brewin Dolphin. He is a former associate lecturer in finance at Northumbria University and has won the coveted Securities & Investments Institute National Award (now the CISI) when taking his industry diploma. In a fast moving and dynamic investment world, Gary applies his unique methodology to equity research and excels in finding hidden values and growth opportunities in companies.

Vinay Bedi, investment consultant

With over 30 years’ experience in investment research, analysis, finance and corporate broking, Vinay joined Vertem in 2016 as our principal investment consultant. He previously worked at UBS Wealth Management and Brewin Dolphin, as a senior investment adviser, based in the North East. Vinay focuses on developing and promoting our private client and charity offerings and has a real passion for unearthing that hidden gem of an idea that can make a real difference to client portfolios. Vinay is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment.