Jobs could be axed under closure plans
Around 40 jobs are under threat after a firm of financial advisers announced plans to close its Exeter office.
Lighthouse Group said the move followed a strategic review which is expected to result in a number of operational changes.
The proposal would see work currently carried out from the group's back office operations centre in Pynes Hill transferred to its offices in Stockport and Woodingdean, near Brighton.
If the plans are approved by the group's board, the Exeter office would close by the end of March next year.
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One employee said: "Although the decision to close the office has been made for, we would hope, sound business reasons, this doesn't take into account the personal devastation that will be experienced.
"We all hope for the best, but fear the worst."
Another described the announcement as "devastating news", adding: "I am sure all advisers would agree that the small but strong Exeter team has been keen and efficient in providing human support and a positive listening and responsive attitude in order to assist wherever they can.
"For those with partners, families, connections or who are a bit long in the tooth, the options are restricted. They will probably all be out of work by mid December."
The company said the proposed closure of the Exeter office was expected to deliver "operational efficiency gains".
Malcolm Streatfield, chief executive of Lighthouse, said: "This announcement comes as part of the group's ongoing work to rationalise and simplify its operational structure.
"With five locations nationwide, which have evolved as a result of the group's historic mergers and acquisitions activity, it is important for the board to assess the efficacy of its structure and, where appropriate, rationalise its operations.
"The operational efficiencies that would result if the proposal was implemented would benefit the overall group. As a result of the group's growing client base, particularly through its strong partnerships with affinity groups, staff from the Exeter office who did wish to apply to relocate to other offices would be able to do so."
Rydon House in Pynes Hill is home to Lighthouse Advisory Services' head office. The parent group, whose shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market, also has offices in Harewood, West Yorkshire, and its head office in London.
Lighthouse Group said a collective consultation process with employee representatives will be undertaken before a final decision is made about the future of the Exeter office. All affected employees will also be consulted individually.
It added that the strategic review considered factors including the availability of appropriately skilled labour markets and the amount of time remaining on various leases at its current locations.