It has been 18 months since Brian O’Connor and Angus Jack took a leap of faith and set up North Capital in Edinburgh.
‘We’ve had a substantial start and have been rewarded by amazing client loyalty,’ O’Connor said. ‘We had a list of target clients we thought our service was appropriate for and every single one of them has joined us.’
The duo left UBS Wealth Management to launch their own business in February 2016 and have so far hired two analysts, Katie MacRaild and Daniel Brawley, as well as an office manager.
Aside from the core team of five, the company also employs consultants who specialise in real estate and hedge funds. This is because, O’Connor says, the client profiles give them the opportunity to consider investments in alternative, less liquid assets.
The company does not disclose assets under management or client numbers, but it targets clients with between £10 million to £100 million, offering bespoke portfolios, aiming to stay away from the ‘cookie-cutter’ model portfolio approach.
‘We have an investment philosophy where we believe investment management between liquid and illiquid classes is driven by clients who have profiles that mean they have more money than they are going to spend for the rest of their lives,’ he said.
‘Because our entire market is clients with £10-£100 million they can afford the illiquidity premium. There is a lot of education around our asset allocation policy and we try to populate portfolios with interesting opportunities we find in the market.’
O’Connor and Jack consider their operation to be the only private office in Scotland at the moment. But why is that?
‘I think there is a healthy degree of cynicism of new entrants coming into the Scottish market,’ O’Connor explained. ‘It takes time to build trust. If I compare the Scottish market and other regional markets as a sector outside of London, I see London as a much more transactional place, whereas the Scottish market is much more relationship driven.
‘If you are a new incumbent trying to come into Scotland with an attitude of “I’m only going to look after £10 million plus wealth”, you’re not going to have much traction for a long period of time.’
But he added that because the pair have been working in Scotland for a long time, latterly for 10 years at UBS, when asking clients to move across it ‘wasn’t a huge leap of faith for them to trust us’.