Rathbones is going through a careful vetting process as it looks to populate its new Private Office with investment managers.
The private client manager revealed last year it was launching the office for clients with assets of between £10 million and a £100 million.
The decision was the brainchild of Rathbones chief Philip Howell, who took over in March 2014.
‘It is always good to refresh your strategy and when Philip Howell became CEO he highlighted this was an area that is under-served by private bankers, so it made sense to launch a proposition,’ Rathbones chief financial officer Paul Stockton (pictured) told Wealth Manager. ‘It made sense brand wise to move further up the wealth management space.’
The division is headed by Andrew Clark, who joined the firm through its acquisition of Jupiter's private client business in 2014. Last November it hired Natalie Merrens from Kleinwort Benson as head of investment solutions.
The office now has five staff. Rathbones spent much of 2015 building infrastructure before going on a wider recruitment drive.
‘This is something we are going to develop very slowly,’ Stockton said. ‘We will be careful when choosing individuals and won’t sacrifice quality for speed.’
Stockton was speaking after Rathbones posted a 28% jump in profit in 2015 and said it was ‘alert’ to acquisition opportunities following the success of the Jupiter and Deutsche buys in 2014.
‘There are firms out there struggling to compete with tech and compliance trends and that creates opportunities for Rathbones,’ Stockton said.
He also said Rathbones was ‘watching’ developments in the robo-advice market, although it is unlikely to enter it.
It invested in technology in order to maintain its competitive edge, however. ‘We are trying to improve clients’ digital experience,’ Stockton said.
Rathbones has also established a new distribution team collaborating with advisers, lawyers and accountancy firms. It established 10 strategic alliances in 2015, with more professional relationships established during the course of the year.
While Rathbones, which has amassed £29.2 billion since it was formed back in 1742, has historically relied on referrals, it recognises a different approach is required for the professional market.
‘It’s a different sales discipline and culture and we need to make sure we understand there are different criteria required for professional intermediaries rather than retail private clients,’ added Stockton.
‘Rathbones has traditionally been a referral business and this will always be an important part of what we do.’