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Pub Club: At Ye Grapes with Connor Broadley’s James Connor and Chris Wyllie

Pub Club: At Ye Grapes with Connor Broadley’s James Connor and Chris Wyllie

The beauty of this feature is that it’s virtually impossible to run out of pubs to visit, writes Eleanor Mahmoud. Admittedly we frequent Mayfair pretty often – we are out visiting wealth management firms after all. But kudos goes to James Connor and Chris Wyllie from independent London based firm Connor Broadley for bringing me to a part of Mayfair I didn’t even know existed.

Ye Grapes pub is tucked away in Shepherd Market, a small charming haven and somewhat of a secret in the midst of ‘the posh bit’ of London.  Bitter drinker and chief investment officer Wyllie jokes that they wanted to pick a good pub for today’s venue but likewise didn’t want to overthink it. Ye Grapes was therefore the obvious choice.

He says: ‘This is our local, it’s probably the most down to earth pub in Mayfair!’

It is 4pm on a Wednesday afternoon and the pub is full of people and full of atmosphere. As we catch up over a pint, chief executive Connor is eager to tell me about their latest project – client testimonials.

‘We have put a lot of work into putting together our private client testimonial brochure. We knew everyone sounds the same – which is why we got our clients to do the talking for us. How they feel about us is what makes us different,’ he explains.

In a bid to showcase their individual flair, the team have put admirable effort into ensuring they don’t blend into the wealth management crowd. Client testimonials are accompanied by a timeline of key milestones in that individual’s life. Putting themselves in the same boat, the team page on Connor Broadley’s website is equally as honest. With just a few clicks, I can discover when Wyllie’s children were born and how Connor made the move from professional football to financial advice.

There are seemingly few barriers between client and wealth manager here.

‘Peter [Broadley] and I launched Connor Broadley in 2007 as close friends who shared the same vision,’ Connor goes on to say. ‘It was an interesting time for the financial planning industry. The industry was professionalising but many operators had relied on “grandfathering” to get their qualifications. We hadn’t.’

Originally a financial planning firm, they took the plunge to launch their discretionary service in 2011, with Wyllie joining in 2014. With outsourcing being something of a buzzword, we discuss that decision further.

‘As an adviser, when you outsource to a discretionary manager you give away so much control of the outcome,’ Connor says. ‘We just couldn’t accept that!’

Wyllie echoes these thoughts, saying: ‘I happily attend over 200 meetings with clients a year. You don’t get that if you outsource.’

Recalling a particular meeting where a client asked if they had any exposure to Canada in their portfolio, Connor is evidently pleased to tap into Wyllie’s knowledge.

‘The great thing about Chris being there was that he could immediately tell her exactly how much exposure and where.’

As the guys enjoy a second pint, we touch on their investment process. Wyllie argues that they are fiercely independent when it comes to investment selection, not tied to anyone. He is also fervent on fund manager selection.

‘In my opinion, a three-year track record is the worst, as it’s just long enough for a style to top out as the weight of money floods in,’ he explains.

‘We much prefer managers with a seven or 10 year track record. This allows us to cut the universe hugely and isolate skill – when you have so much to pick from, why not pick the most seasoned?’ 

Glass half empty:

‘The US economy is a beast, and yet the US dollar has been very out of favour the past year. It is a potential opportunity.’

Glass half full:
‘The young team at Connor Broadley. All our analysts typically are CFA qualified and our planners are chartered.’

If you fancy chatting over a pub lunch, contact Eleanor on emahmoud@citywire.co.uk or Alex on afoster@citywire.co.uk.

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