It’s not often I get treated like one of our readers’ private clients, writes Eleanor Mahmoud. But today I’m sitting in a client meeting room, being waited on and having my wine topped up. No, I’m not a potential client. This is Pub Club, but with quite a significant twist – we’re not in a pub. In fact, we’re not even in any form of restaurant, bar or boozer. We’re in Arbuthnot Latham’s London office.
It’s perhaps unsurprising to some to hear that a private bank has whisked me off to a client meeting room for lunch, but I must admit I feel very well looked after.
Having taken up the offer of water, a soft drink and wine, I am catching up with StJohn Gardner and Liz Bottomley, managing directors of the firm’s investment management and private banking divisions respectively.
‘We’ve certainly had some clients approach us because they are tired of the “one size fits all” service they’ve had in the past,’ Bottomley says, as we discuss the bank’s growth strategy. This is rather fitting, as on the morning of our meeting, the firm announced two senior hires in its investment management and wealth planning teams.
Offering clients the full combination of private banking, wealth planning and investment management is seen as the perfect harmony here.
‘My team and StJohn’s team are extremely complementary. We don’t see them as separate divisions,’ she explains. ‘Having everything under one roof gives the client peace of mind that we have the full picture of them and their aspirations.’
With over £1 billion in assets under management across 900-odd clients, they are no doubt kept busy. Over our main course of Guinea fowl, we discuss the increasing number of entrepreneurial clients Gardner and Bottomley now work with.
Bottomley heads up four teams in London, one of which focuses on entrepreneurs and executives, an area in which they claim to have developed a niche.
I also discover Arbuthnot Latham’s work with the Cass Business School, supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in London and the South East.
By hosting the annual ‘Arbuthnot Latham Inspiring Innovator of the Year’ event, the private bank helps recognise and reward exceptional entrepreneurial talent at the university.
Back to the client side, it is evident these Gardner and Bottomley are enthusiastic about the flare they see in them.
‘Entrepreneurial clients are fantastic to work with,’ Gardner says. ‘They often bring their own business and industry knowledge and experience to the table during their regular portfolio reviews, which provides our research analysts with great additional insight.’
Bottomley echoes this, saying: ‘I think entrepreneurs also like the fact that we can lend to them. They can borrow against their own portfolios or other assets which gives them greater flexibility.’
As we tuck into rhubarb Eton mess for dessert, I make the mistake of assuming that entrepreneurs are willing to take more investment risk in their portfolios, having taken the risk of setting up their own business.
Gardner is quick to respond: ‘Generally speaking, they take less risk than you might think. They have created their own wealth and built their own businesses over time, so at this point their key objective is often simply to preserve their wealth by keeping pace with inflation or better.’
However, he explains that in a bid to stimulate these clients’ natural curiosity, Arbuthnot Latham offers three separate portfolios, all of which are ideas-led, thematic and bottom-up.
‘Clients may put the majority of their assets into traditional ‘top-down’ strategies and then allocate 10-20% to these portfolios, to allow them to meet their own intellectual interest.’
Get in touch with Eleanor on firstname.lastname@example.org if you're partial to a bit of pub grub.