The Queen’s bank has officially launched in Scotland and there is opportunity to be grasped. Patrick Brusnahan speaks to Coutts’ CEO about the move and how it affects strategy
Coutts, the wealth manager and private bank has announced it will be launching in Scotland, located across a network of offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen.
The move follows the completion of the sale of the Adam & Company investment management business to Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management (Adam’s banking and lending business is not part of the sale).
This has been a long time coming considering the history that the bank and Scotland share. According to Peter Flavel, Coutts’ history is “Scotland-based,” but “has had a strong connection to London since its founders”.
Coutts is building on its Scottish roots which date back to 1692. Its origins lie in three Scottish families: the Campbells, who founded the original goldsmith-banking shop; the Middletons, who moved the business to banking; and the Coutts family who laid the foundations of the modern bank.
In addition, it has also had many notable Scottish clients including Sir Walter Scott, Sir Charles Bell, John Rennie and Andrew Carnegie.
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This arm will be run by Alisdair Dewar, who spent over 22 years at Adam & Company (A&C).
Flavel says: “It was only until the group bought A&C that we started to market private banking under that brand in Scotland.
“What Coutts brings is an expanded range of service and products to those Adam client who will become Coutts clients.”
Flavel is very proud of the service that Coutts brings to its clients and aims to continue that level.
He explains: “Coutts wins awards as the best private bank in the UK and we don’t take that for granted. Adam clients are happy the range of products and services are being improved.”
A huge part of this is a recent strong commitment to ESG. There are “greater levels of interest in ESG in Scotland” and “Coutts is at the forefront”. However, there is no sign of resting on laurels as Flavel says that bank needs to “commit to an ongoing path of improvement”.
He says: “We asked ourselves five years ago how to approach ESG and we said if we believe in ESG, we need it on all of our funds and not just a section of them.”
Coutts is a big name in private banking and wealth, often referred to as the Queen’s bank, and that comes with gravitas. It also means being attached to tradition and older ways, whether fairly or not.
However, the bank is adapting. A quarter of net new money going through Coutts is from digital channels, compared to 0% five years ago.
Flavel concludes: “When people think of Coutts, you can think of landed estates and inherited wealth. Of course, that’s what we do, but the larger part of what we do is work with entrepreneurs across the UK and in Scotland. We see a group of exciting entrepreneurial clients that we think we can bank very well and suit their needs.
“Wealth is still being created in traditional ways but also in new and different ways.
“The number of new clients that say to me that Coutts is different to what I expected, it became apparent that the heritage that we have is the best private bank brand in the world and we need to nourish our history but not live in it. We need to be modern, relevant and contemporary.”