After rebutting Spear’s question about what the coronavirus crisis has meant for the wealth of his clients with a reminder of the priority of health, Patrick Smiley acknowledges that portfolio security during a global pandemic has posed a challenge. Smith & Williamson has risen to this challenge, offering clients enhanced communication as well as focusing on ‘positioning portfolios appropriately’.
It is not necessarily appropriate, says Smiley, just to put assets into healthcare and technology. ‘There is no denying that the issue is going to take time to resolve, so the concern should be on balance- sheet strength. We’ve got to know our clients and their capacity for risk – diversity is key,’ he adds.
Before the crisis dominated, business was going well at S&W. The firm was looking to expand its tech capability with an overhaul of its CMS. ‘The use of tech is twofold,’ says Smiley. ‘We use it to manage the risk of portfolios, but digital reporting is also important for easing clients’ lives.’ The big news, however, was merger talks with rival Tilney: the crisis pressed pause on the £625 million deal, but merger talks resumed in June and will be completed soon.
Nonetheless, ‘robust and evolving’ investment powers on. AuM stands at £20 billion, while Smiley’s desk oversees £1 billion in charities, offshore trusts and UK-based individuals. Smiley himself personally oversees about
£700 million worth of assets.