Henley-on-Thames-based OakTree Wealth Management survived tough economic headwinds in its early days.
Co-founder Jeremy Arthur, who set up the firm in 2008 with chief investment officer Ian Brady, went to lengths to prove the firm’s strong foundations in a period of uncertainty.
‘We set up in 2008 without a track record, although Brady was previously head of fund of funds at Invesco Perpetual. So Ian and I invested in the firm to keep it trading for at least three years,’ said Arthur. ‘This was to show clients and staff we were committed to making the business a success. It was about aligning the interests of all the stakeholders: clients, partners and staff. All staff have options in the company.’
The firm prides itself on its capability for in-depth research, with its marketing stating: ‘There is no substitute for “wearing down the shoe leather’’. When setting up OakTree, we wanted to combine personal client service with institutional fund management capability,’ said Arthur
‘Ian visits companies and carries out research on the underlying stocks in each fund. Each portfolio comes in at a total expense ratio of 2% or below for investments under £1 million, which includes financial planning, cashflow modelling and portfolio management. We believe it offers extremely good value for our clients, especially when matched to the service and communication they receive.’
Strong communication with clients is extremely important to OakTree, and alongside his regular reviews, Brady sends clients commentaries on his research trips and upon unexpected geopolitical events that may affect the markets.
Brady’s blogs express the importance placed by both founders on detailed research. ‘Visiting companies and going to industry-specific conferences means you can catch snippets you wouldn’t get anywhere else, and we can realign the investment portfolios accordingly. Furthermore, analysing the underlying stock lets us better understand what specific role the fund can play in the overall allocation,’ Arthur said.
The emphasis on making sure clients are fully informed of the situation extends to analysing the delivery and receipt of the firm’s communications.
‘Utilising technology means we can keep clients better informed, and more reassured, than ever before,’ Arthur said.
‘We use a customer relationship management system for client communications, which enables us to track whether they have opened them and then follow up on this. The potential for driving the business forward using technology is largely untapped and hugely promising.’