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THE ISSUES Wealth management


being the best. Whenever we’re making a decision, it’s about what will be best for our clients. It’s not about how do we get the next person in.’ ‘What does scale mean?’ asks Thowless-


Julien Sevaux Eighteen48 Partners


“For some fi rms, size has been the enemy – the enemy of return.


You want to fi nd a size where you feel you can operate and still generate


outstanding returns for your clients”


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. Julien Sevaux, whose new firm broke through the 1 billion euro AuM barrier last year, agrees that there’s a limit to how big a ‘boutique’ can go – but he is far from dogmatic. For some firms, ‘size has been the enemy – the enemy of return,’ says Sevaux. ‘You want to find a size where you feel you can operate and still generate outstanding returns for your clients.’ He reckons ‘five- plus’ billion would be about right for Eighteen48. Still, that would see them increasing AuM fivefold. Another who sees advantages in scale is


Ian Barnard, CEO and founding partner of CapGen, whose ultra-wealthy clients include the Heineken family. He has ambitious targets to markedly increase the size of the firm’s assets under management. ‘As so


often,’ he says, ‘we are following the US, where tens of billions is the new normal.’ ‘I think “boutique” with an association of size is going to stop being what defines boutique,’ he adds. ‘What characterises the private investment office is less it being small than it being unconflicted – not having a balance sheet and not having in-house product.’ He believes enlargement is ‘the destiny of us as a firm, and I suspect the industry, because clients are hugely reassured by size. If you can take away the temptations that come from a balance sheet and from having your own product, you’ve made yourself distinctive.’ But where are the limits of expansion? If


ever ‘people within the firm or clients were feeling anonymous,’ he says, that would be a signal. Barnard accepts that growth is a massive challenge, but he believes that expansion will help win larger mandates and new clients, as well as to attract and retain the right talent.


2000: Fleming Family & Partners (FF&P) formed after sale of Fleming banking assets


2001: Partners’ Capital founded


2004: Stanhope Capital founded by Daniel Pinto and Julien Sevaux


1976: Stonehage set up to manage assets of diaspora South African families


1996: Alex Scott founds Sandaire


Lord North Street founded by Adam Wethered, ex JP Morgan, and William Drake


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