There is a certain excitement when a new player enters a sector. What is it trying to prove? Who is it aimed at? What can it do that the long-standing big players can’t? Patrick Brusnahan looks at a new entrant to wealth management
Aquarius’ aim has been said to “transform” financial services for ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs). It plans to do this by breaking up the industry’s “closed shop” and provide value for both institutions and individuals.
With a range of services utilising top range technology and innovation, it also wants to propose new industry standards for financial services. While launching in London, it also has eyes on Switzerland, Monaco, Dubai, and Singapore.
Aquarius is backed by the Geneva-headquartered Crescendo Group, the international investment boutique that prides itself on innovative products and services.
Jacques Diwan, CEO and co-founder of Crescendo Group, says: “We are delighted to partner with Leonardo and his team. Crescendo Group knows London very well, and we share Leonardo’s confidence in the UK’s growth prospects. Leonardo is the perfect person to lead this project; he brings almost a quarter of a century’s experience in the industry. He is passionate about harnessing new technologies and he is unconditionally committed to deliver an un-parallel attention to clients and the quality of service.”
So what is Aquarius going to do differently?
He continues: “There is discontent, not only from clients but employees. Things have changed a lot and people are looking for independence. People are looking for not necessarily a sales-orientated, product pushing organisation.
“The feeling of going to a client and literally proposing what we believe is the best solution without any constraint, this was missing in the last years of my activity.
“This is why people leave banks and go to boutiques.”
Carvalho also believes that often “advice is not independent” and purely about delivering as many products and solutions as possible. This leads to a gap between the client and the adviser.
Another gap is in technology and where big private banks are falling behind.
Carvalho explains: “There is still a big gap in terms of what big institutions can provide with regards to technology. We understand the legacy issue, but what we can provide is much better than others.
“The gap is difficult to overcome. When moving to a new platform, it is easier to start from scratch. For us, it was very important that clients have access to the level of technology they want.”
He says: “Many people have been quick to write off the UK as an investment destination following Brexit, and after the coronavirus hit the country harder than any other major economy. We believe that this view is incredibly short-sighted. Everything that made London one of the world’s two most important financial capitals remains: the infrastructure, rule of law, lifestyle, pool of talent, stable government, reasonable taxation, and time zone, as well as access to a huge concentration of high-net worth individuals.”
Speaking to PBI, he adds: “The reasons why London was important in the past are still there.
“I hope Brexit, in a way, will help the modernisation of regulation. Regulations are in some ways penalising clients, rather than helping them, as financial institutions are a bit afraid of complications and risk. It will hopefully help the UK get away from MiFiD II.”
The goal is to acquire high and ultra-high net worth clients, not from social media or mass publicity but through reputation and word of mouth.
Carvalho concludes: “Once we gain a license, we will start the acquisition of clients. As we speak, we are working on different dimensions. It all has the same purpose, the acquisition and service of clients.”