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July 14, 2022updated 08 Nov 2023 6:00am

The UK’s new wealth management landscape

By Spear's

The topography of Britain’s wealth management landscape has changed dramatically over the past 12 months. Spear’s profiles the biggest and best performing firms that occupy it today

In January, US investment bank Raymond James completed its takeover of Charles Stanley after purchasing the firm for £278.9 million a year earlier.

In March, Royal Bank of Canada agreed to pay £1.6 billion to acquire British wealth manager Brewin Dolphin – a 60 per cent premium on the firm’s share price. Adding RBC’s £5 billion of existing UK wealth assets to the pot, the new firm will now oversee £64 billion of client wealth.

The deal is the largest in a wave of consolidation that has swept through the UK’s wealth management industry. Spear’s has visualised the results of an FT and Savanta survey of leading UK wealth managers to help map this new landscape:

Alongside these firms, a new generation of boutique wealth management firms has emerged to challenge the incumbents. In an interview with Spear’s last year, Max Thowless-Reeves, an ex-UBS banker and co-founder of one of these firms, Sorbus Partners, explained that one area they could challenge the incumbents on was on price.

‘What does scale mean?’ asked Thowless-Reeves. ‘It means standardisation, it means imposing process.’ This leads to the imposition of model portfolios and greater risk management collars, he says. The costly processes then lead to bigger fees.

Below is a table that breaks down the fees charged by all major UK wealth managers in the FT and Savanta’s survey.

But are wealth management fees worth it? Many would point to the strong performance of managers over the past twelve months as evidence. Amongst them is RBC’s head of wealth Doug Guzman, who highlighted Brewin’s ‘robust performance’ as a driving factor behind the acquisition.

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The wealth managed by these firms is also growing. In 2020, wealth management firms were overseeing £1.6 trillion for Britain’s investors, more than half the country’s GDP. Oliver Wyman, a consultancy, expects an ageing population to push an extra £800 billion their way by 2024.

Wealth rises across Britain’s regions have also been a result of nationwide growth. Between 2012 and 2016, British financial and private pension wealth rose by 70% from £4.8 trillion to £8.2 trillion. As Britain’s wealth management map tilts away from the capital, firms are opening regional offices to service these new markets.

For a full breakdown of the UK’s top wealth managers head to the Spear’s 500 website.

[See also: The best wealth managers for high-net-worth clients in 2023]

Spear’s Magazine presents Spear’s 500 Live on 7 September. Find more information on NSMG.live.

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