Does a private bank actually care about its clients? If so, how do you show that? When it comes to the millions, if not billions, that clients put into private banks, how do you show a client that you care? And what is the reward from that? Brooks Macdonald explains a few tricks.

Brooks Macdonald is a relatively new player to the UK wealth management sector, founded in 1991 by then CEO Chris Macdonald, as well as others such as Jon Gumpel who stayed with the firm until 2019 before moving to Aubrey Capital.

Twenty-five years later and it was managing £9bn ($11.5bn) in discretionary funds under management. This now totals £17.9bn. It also started acquiring other firms, such as Cornelian Asset Managers in 2019 and Lloyds Bank Group’s Channel Islands wealth business in 2020.

The firm is growing fast, but is it due just to acquisitions or something more?

Robin Eggar, chief commercial officer, believes that relationships are crucial to the wealth manager, its clients and its growth.

Speaking to PBI, he says: “It is absolutely key for us. We do have a really client-centric culture at Brooks Macdonald and that genuinely comes through in everything we do. Those relationships are absolutely key.”

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brooks macdonald
Robin Eggar, chief commercial officer, Brooks Macdonald

Growing as a firm

Relationships take time, so how does a company like Brooks Macdonald manage it with its clients? What is the onboarding process?

Eggar explains: “Ultimately, it varies between clients. If you can invest the time and explain to the client why we need to know all these various bits of information, which maybe they thought they weren’t going to divulge on day one, and really get under the bonnet of what they want to achieve, then you start the relationship on the right footing. You are asking the right questions on day one and that enables you to then continue that style of relationship thereafter.

“Clients become increasingly comfortable with dealing with us and that can depend on where they come from as well. If you received got a warm referral from a client that has been here for 15-20 years and loves what we do, then that makes things easier.”

However, offering a relationship with a client is not a particularly new or unique concept in financial services. Brooks Macdonald has to differentiate and Eggar states that it does.

He says: “What also sets us apart is once we have the understanding of what the client wants, what’s there and what their ambitions are; we then have a pretty full set of propositions that can be really bespoke for the client to actually deliver on those needs.

“I am not going to sit here and say we are the biggest firm in the world, but we have enough scale to make us relevant and competitive. At the same time, we are small enough to still be able to be nimble and reactive.”

Thinking about the future

Wealth transfer is a big topic for the HNW families and clients of Brooks Macdonald are not different. It is a common conversation topic at the firm.

“What is really interesting in the UK market specifically is pensions,” Eggar states. “Everything and anything that goes with pensions.”

He continues: “There is a clear need for advice around pensions more broadly. There is a point at which people come to retire, and they built up these pots of wealth and wonder what on earth do they do with it?

“What that tells me is that there is a need for advice and wealth management firms to have a proper distinct proposition for how they’re going to provide those income needs to their clients in retirement. So that decumulation offering is a real opportunity in that in that medium-term in the UK.

“That’s where proper planning comes in as well. Because actually, in theory, your pension could become your most efficient way of creating wealth transfer.”

What is next for Brooks Macdonald over the next few years?

He concludes: “We are an ambitious firm with ambitious growth plans and we have stated that in the marketplace.

“That is going to be achieved through fantastic client service which allows us to deliver organic growth above average levels in the market.

“We have also completed a couple of acquisitions and the strategy is to look at further acquisitions, but to grow scale as well. I do not think we will achieve our ambition with just one of those factors. We will need both levers over the next five years.”