Secure Trust in Solihull, personal finance wing of Arbuthnot Banking, is benefiting from growing numbers of over-borrowed individuals seeking help from its debt management operation "Money Freedom".
"We are seeing good growth there," said Gary Jennison, Secure Trust's chief executive. "We are the only debt management company regulated by the Financial Services Authority and licensed by the Bank of England."
An investment drive since Mr Jennison arrived in September, 2006, trimmed Secure Trust's underlying profit by 25 per cent last year to £4.6 million. This will continue in 2008, Mr Jennison added, but the rewards should also start to flow.
"Our head count is still 370, as it was a year ago, nearly all of them in the West Midlands," he said. Secure Trust has now moved into mortgages and general insurance and rebranded its original utility bill service "Moneyway".
Overall. Arbuthnot Banking's underlying profit for 2007 was 13 per cent ahead at £8.6 million. A 22.5p final dividend gives shareholders a two per cent increase for the year. The shares slipped 5p to 423.5p where they yield 7.8 per cent.
Andrew Salmon, chief operating officer, stressed that neither the private bank Arbuthnot Latham, nor the investment bank Arbuthnot Securities has been affected by the credit crunch. "We continue to run our group in the deliberately cautious way we have done for years," he said. "We are net lenders to the banking market."
Neither subsidiary uses wholesale market funding.
Arbuthnot Securities, originally the corporate finance wing of the Birmingham stockbroker Albert E Sharp, contributed an underlying profit of £8.1 million, up 62 per cent on 2006.
It completed 49 deals during the year, including five stock market flotations. It acted for the Brierley Hill aerospace company Hampson Industries in a US acquisition and advised Baggeridge Brick on the bid by the Austrian Wienerberger.