PERTH'S stockbroking scene has undergone some major changes over the past year as the sector repositions itself to take advantage of growing market confidence. In what appears to be a turnaround from 2008's 'year of fear', the combination of investors' appetite for good deals and banks clutching tightly to their purse strings has created an opportunity for new broking firms to make their mark. The latest addition to the state's stockbroking scene is Blackswan Equities, which brings together a group of old Macquarie Bank mates through a merger with Stripe Capital that will be finalised later this month. Simon Lyons - initially with Porter Western and later with Macquarie after it bought the local firm - is the chief executive of Blackswan, which opened its doors last month. He is re-united with Brian Bates, Phil Grant, Tony Kenny, Tim Weir and Jamie Mann, who, along with Michael Bowden and Steve Wood, all have equity in Blackswan. The firm has also recruited Tony Lofthouse, formerly with Hogan & Partners before it closed its doors late last year. Mr Lyons said he co-founded Blackswan late last year after he saw a gap in the market left by bigger investment banks that were focused on business in the eastern states. "There was an opportunity for another business [in Perth] that is very research focussed to build relationships here in WA," he said. With that aim in mind, Mr Lyons began looking at a number of other companies in Perth to merge with or join, with Stripe being the most logical fit. Stripe partner Tony Kenny said the merger was the next step for the business, which did not have its own Australian Financial Services Licence, instead operating as a corporate advisory representative for Asandas. Mr Kenny said it was always the intention for Stripe, established in 2006, to move away from Asandas. "[The merger] means we can provide additional corporate advice as well as quality research to product that we want to put out," he said. "It gives us more flexibility and increases our offering to our clients and corporate customers." Stripe has about 1,400 clients and $300 million funds under management. Overall Blackswan has 10 advisers and 20 staff in total, including Stripe staff, placing it as the 16th largest stockbroker on WA Business News' Book of Lists. Other new broker firms to the sector include Prescott Securities and Zurich Securities. Zurich director Collin Vost said he founded the firm because he was not entirely happy with the service other brokers were giving to clients. "We give a personal service; we don't gouge our clients for services which we can give to them for low cost or for nothing if they're good clients," he said. Mr Vost added that the global downturn was delivering Zurich business from companies the firm would never have secured 12 months ago. Meantime, Perth's oldest brokerage, DJ Carmichael & Co, has decided to go without a managing director for now after Rod Beeton left last month. Director Ian Dorrington told WA Business News general manager Tracy Bradsell was managing the day-to-day operations of the firm. Other changes in the sector include a name change for Delta Securities to Alto Capital, while Tricom Equities has been rebadged as Stonebridge Group.
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