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July 10, 2018updated 06 Sep 2018 2:31pm

Revealed: The leading wealth managers of 2018

By Christopher Jackson

There are new entrants to the UHNW and HNW top tens of the Spear’s Wealth Managers Index, after another fascinating bull market year, writes Christopher Jackson

The wealth management industry can sometimes seem sedate and slow to embrace change. But make no mistake, beneath the calm veneer of your wealth manager there is a man – or, increasingly, a woman – subject to complex political and economic currents.

First there was MiFID II, which came into force in January and consumed a great deal of time. ‘You really have to wonder whether it will have any meaningful benefit to the end consumers of wealth management services,’ says new arrival on our list Chris Cole, one of the founders of Lockhart Capital.

And that’s not all. The long-running bull market is, in the opinion of some – but by no means all – set to break (see opposite). There is also the question of whether cryptocurrency will soon sweep away all the traditional structures: already some predict that the next market leader in wealth management will come from this space. In addition, there’s the question of how big organisations will service an increasingly savvy younger generation, as wealth is inherited.

But in the UHNW space, personal relationships are all, and our top ten contains many whom age cannot wither, nor custom stale. Charlie Hoffman continues to be the talisman at HSBC – although this year’s index includes a wider spread of wealth managers from that bank, including music industry specialist Helen Gammons and HNW adviser Daniel Webb, reflecting its strength in depth. Jeremy Knowland is the name to know at Citi Private Bank and points to ‘increasing traction’ this year. Amit Kotha continues to grow his book: according to one observer, Kotha ‘takes on his clients’ problems as his own’.

Giles Pascoe remains a revered figure at the publicity-shy Goldman Sachs, with an impressive client list including landed families and City practitioners. Meanwhile, Rothschild Wealth Management’s Helen Watson has a superb reputation at the family firm: she tells us that she has avoided any ‘defensive positioning’ in portfolios.

But there are also changes. JP Morgan’s deeply impressive Aastha GurbaxSpear’s Young Wealth Manager of the Year in 2016 – fulfils her promise and bursts into the top ten. Meanwhile, Nick Hornby of Cerno Capital also makes the top ten – he tells us that he’s ‘never really lost a client’. Spear’s UHNW Asset Manager of the Year in 2017, Patrick Smiley, also arrives in our highest echelon. Meanwhile, Capital Generation Partners founder Khaled Said, who aims to ‘take the anxiety out of wealth management’, returns to our top ten – as does Nataša Williams, who touts an increase in private equity activity at LGT Vestra.

There are perennial fixtures too in our HNW index (for advice in the £1-15 million range). These include Chris Boon of Close Brothers, who is valued for ‘his ability to reduce technical speak to plain English’; Ross Elder, the CEO of Lincoln Private Investment Office, whose firm has achieved strong returns in alternative asset classes; LGT Vestra’s Bandish Gudka, fresh from his crowning as Spear’s HNW Wealth Manager of the Year in 2017; Peter Gale, who took home the prize of Private Banker of the Year in 2017; Jeremy Hervey of Cazenove Capital, who notes that clients ‘are looking to maintain the long-term spending power in portfolios’; Alan and Gina Miller, who are now fighting for widespread enforcement of MiFID II; Charles White, whom peers describe as ‘a class act’; and Patrick Wilson of Credit Suisse, who notes that clients are now accepting ‘a bit more risk’.

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New to our top ten are James de Broë-Ferguson of Investec, who according to one insider is known for ‘gracious good humour’; and the highly discreet Charles Marment at the resurgent Charles Stanley.

The Spear’s Research Unit decided to exclude non client-facing CEOs from the list for this year, as well as CIOs, as both are unlikely to be the first port of call for clients. However, the list still has a certain heterogeneity with a variety of private bankers, asset managers and relationship managers.

For the first time, we’ve also separated out our top seven family office services practitioners. These are Charlotte Filsell of Sandaire, Matthew Fleming at Stonehage Fleming, Keystone Advisers’ Jonathan Gage, Chawker & Co’s Edward Goodchild, Spear’s Family Office Adviser of the Year in 2017 Catherine Grum of KPMG, AnnaMaria Koerling of Owl Private Office, and Rupert Phelps of Smith & Williamson, who also writes about humanity in UHNW wealth management on page 85.

We are delighted by the range of new firms on this list – whether it be the impressive in-roads made by Wren Private Investment Office in the UHNW space (see our profile on Michael Parsons), or the property-based offering at LJ Partnership (see Edward Lawson Johnston). In terms of businesses servicing HNWs, there is also the remarkable success story of Lockhart Capital, or the example of Neil Moles at Progeny Wealth.

It all speaks to a wealth management industry in rude health. With the political situation still in flux, and the precise financial architecture of post-Brexit life unclear, this is consoling: it suggests resilience at the heart of the British economy. These advisers are all prepared to meet the challenges ahead – come bull market or bear.

UHNW Top Ten

Aastha Gurbax  JP Morgan Private Bank

Charlie Hoffman  HSBC Private Bank

Nick Hornby  Cerno Capital

Jeremy Knowland  Citi Private Bank

Amit Kotha  RBC Wealth Management

Giles Pascoe  Goldman Sachs

Khaled Said Capital Generation Partners

Patrick Smiley  Smith & Williamson

Helen Watson  Rothschild Wealth Management

Nataša Williams  LGT Vestra

HNW Top Ten

Chris Boon  Close Brothers

James de Broë-Ferguson  Investec

Ross Elder Lincoln Private Investment Office

Peter Gale  C Hoare & Co

Bandish Gudka  LGT Vestra

Jeremy Hervey  Cazenove Capital

Charles Marment  Charles Stanley

Alan & Gina Miller  SCM Direct

Charles White  McInroy & Wood

Patrick Wilson  Credit Suisse

Featured image photography by David Harrison

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