Chris Kenny - Spear's Magazine

Chris Kenny

Smith & Williamson

Chris Kenny
Wealth Managers 2018
Company Size

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‘I joined Smith & Williamson the day that Tony Blair became prime minister,’ Chris Kenny recalls of his time as trainee in 1997.

Fast forward 21 years, and the firm has grown considerably, ‘We managed less than £1 billion; today we manage over £20 billion. We had around 30 employees; we’re close to 2,000 today,’ Kenny notes. But unlike many in the industry, Smith & Williamson didn’t grow for growth’s sake, and it has managed to maintain an owner-managed, boutique-style offering for HNWs, with additional ‘armoury’ provided by its tax and accountancy division.

Such independence and flexibility is essential to stay in sync with rich families, as Kenny says private client services are ‘messy and difficult’, so a standardised approach will never do. ‘If the world is gradually moving to a more homogenised or industrialised approach, being the last man standing that does private client properly is a great aspiration to have,’ he adds.

Smith & Williamson may be more than a century old, but Kenny and his colleagues work hard to keep it fresh. He says it starts with faith in the unfairly monikered ‘avocado generation’, as the firm has that decade-long graduate recruitment and training platform in which he himself started. ‘The younger generation of both of our staff and our clients are empowered, confident and determined, much more so than we’ve seen in previous years.’