PA ANALYSIS: Rethinking wealth management’s regional race

Last week Hawksmoor announced not only the opening of a new Taunton office, but also its goal to become the biggest investment manager based in the South West.

PA ANALYSIS: Rethinking wealth management's regional race

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The declaration of intent came seven days after European Wealth – which has grown from a standing star to more than £1bn in funds under management in five years – revealed its prospective acquisition of ISM Solutions.

These are merely the most recent examples of firms seeking to extend their reach beyond the obvious pool of wealth in London and the South East.

Brown Shipley, Thomas Miller Investment, Brooks Macdonald, European Wealth, Bellpenny, Hawskmoor, Rowan Dartington, Towry; all have been busy in recent months, acquiring businesses, recruiting staff, establishing regional footholds from scratch, and in some cases an amalgamation of all three.

“We are in a relationship business,” said David Rothburn, managing director at Quilter Cheviot. “It is very hard to build relationship through email and telephone – you need to meet with people, which the regulators encourage.

“While not all of our clients are within ‘x’ miles of our regional offices, there is a geographical dotting of where clients are based. That said, if a client enjoys working with our Manchester office and moves to Scotland, we are not going to make that client use our Scotland office – it is about maintaining the personal relationship.”

But why now, as opposed to five or 10 years ago?

“Since the retail distribution review, managers have had quite a lot of their time focused on other areas and, as that regulatory pressure wears off they have more time for strategic issues,” Steve Gazzard, chief executive of the Institute of Financial planning.

“My gut feeling is that had firms not had their capabilities taken up implementing changes and dealing with external pressure, this would have happened a few years ago.”

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