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July 8, 2014updated 04 Apr 2017 2:09pm

Exclusive: Duncan Lawrie to double its client base in 5 years

Duncan Lawrie, the UK private banking and wealth management boutique, has revealed ambitious plans to double its client base within the next 5-10 years.

By Valentina Romeo

Duncan Lawrie, the UK private banking and wealth management boutique, has revealed ambitious plans to double its client base within the next 5-10 years.

Head of wealth management, Seth Cowburn, said the bank aims to grow organically in the UK focusing on its bespoke services offering and flexibility of the group.

"The best form of growing your business organically is referrals so if you have your client base who is willing to recommend to their friends or family, ultimately that’s the way to grow," he told PBI.

"I have a great confidence we can grow our client base at the right speed that we want to. That’ll be a steady pace. I think it is healthy because if you grow at such a pace you have extensively new businesses coming through the door," he added.

Cowburn, who joined Douglas Deakin Young in 1992, later to become Duncan Lawrie, said the wealth band between £750,000 to £5m will see more growth in the business, that is the most profitable area for the bank historically.

Duncan Lawrie recently told PBI that the bank is also attracting clients with liquid assets of £250,000 plus, and sees future opportunities to pick up clients in the £500,000 – £1m wealth range.

The move mainly comes after a lot of big players have put a minimum in the segment of their client base (£500,000 – £1m), such as Barclays and Coutts, whose focus moved to the UHNW segment instead.

Cowburn said: "Some of the largest organisations that can’t offer a much tailored experience have had their reputation tarnished over the last 5-6 years.

"Offering a more personal service is how we want to distinguish ourselves and taking a long term view as well. This is both for our clients and staff base. We pride our self on continuity."

As at the end of June 2014, Duncan Lawrie’s total AuM stood at £786.5 million, the majority of that being on a discretionary basis. At the moment, the group has approximately 3,000 clients across both sides of the business. Moreover, UK residents make a high 90% of Duncan Lawrie clients’ share.

The focus of Duncan Lawrie will remain the UK, and, according to Cowburn, the wealth management side of the business is the one that will see more growth opportunities.

"My feeling would be initially on the UK as there is opportunity at the moment out there. Our expertise and industry knowledge is much more UK orientated so for us to have an overseas expansion would be slightly different strategically. However, you have to be open minded to where you want to grow the business," he said.

Specifically, Cowburn mentioned the Bristol office of the group, where he expects more growth as wealth creation is increasing.

"We are in a strong position because there is so much disenchantment out there towards the bigger boys. I see ourselves as a challenger and not a prey of big banks. I think small bespoke players will be the ones benefiting tremendously over the next 3 to 5 years and I think they will gain much more market share."

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