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Cover star club: the 53 discretionaries we grilled in 2013

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by David Campbell, James Poulter on Jan 08, 2014 at 11:57

As Wealth Manager limbers up for another year of cross-examining the UK's leading discretionary investment managers, we take you through the individuals we put under the spotlight last year.  

NAME: Hector Kilpatrick of Cornelian

FUN FACT: Before joining fund management, Kilpatrick got his start in aquaculture. ‘I realised there was more to life than fish’

WHAT WE LEARNED: The Edinburgh company has credible plans to double assets to £1 billion and is looking south of the border to expand

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: An insight into how a small relatively young business is holding its own in the sharp-elbowed Edinburgh market

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NAME: John Langrish of James Hambro & Partners

FUN FACT: The partners have agreed to plough their bonuses back into the business for the foreseeable future

WHAT WE LEARNED: How the latest iteration of the Hambro name scooped £1 billion in client assets in less than two years

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Langrish believes James Hambro’s investment approach, relationship with JOHCM, and flexibility to offer clients direct equity exposure should leave the boutique well placed post-RDR

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NAME: Pau Morilla-Giner of London & Capital

FUN FACT: The only packaged products the company uses are hedge funds with everything else selected in-house

WHAT WE LEARNED: How new blood is being bought into L&C as Bloomberg regular and well known investor Ashok Shah transitions into retirement

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The company manages to do a lot with a little, with 12 investment staff directly selecting securities for £2.33 billion in assets on behalf of 66 client families, in addition to launching a Fatca-compliant division

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NAMES: Jake Moeller and Jonathan ‘JB’ Beckett of Lloyds

FUN FACT: The Lloyds press team prefers him to keep them out of sight, but JB sports spectacular full-sleeve tattoos across both arms

WHAT WE LEARNED: How the fund management duo (Moeller has since moved on), who are instrumental in selecting funds for $160 billion in Lloyds’ client assets, plan to use their financial clout

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Technically public employees under the current public/private ownership of the bank, the team has to walk a delicate tightrope and manage to do it in some style. This is also one of the most valuable buy lists in the UK

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NAME: Craig Burgess of Evidence Based Investment

FUN FACT: Advisers doing it for themselves

WHAT WE LEARNED: How former IFA Burgess plans to roll out what is marketed as the UK’s first ‘turnkey’ asset management service – essentially a plug-and-play asset allocation model intended to bypass discretionary managers

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: While tiny, this could be disruptive technology in the scramble to consolidate advised assets, with Burgess estimating his minimal overheads could yield an eventual end-user cost of just 12bps

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NAME: Darrel Mercer of Psigma

FUN FACT: A punt on the shy boy-next-door created the industry-dominating comment and analysis machine Tom Becket

WHAT WE LEARNED: How the decade-old company has gone from ‘three men and a dog’ to assets of £1.4 billion

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The company is by no means resting on its laurels with plans in place to take it to £3 billion including a network of regional offices in addition to London and Birmingham and a ‘top of the pack’ adviser service

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NAME: Tom Sheridan of 7IM

FUN FACT: Sheridan – instrumental in building the Barclays Stockbrokers business – says he would have run a mile from its decision to buy Gerrards

WHAT WE LEARNED: One of the original online investment platforms is not slowing down and continues to innovate as it holds on to its first-mover advantage

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: While the semi-commoditised investment service doesn’t leave much room for personalisation or sentiment, it looks a lot like the future for much asset management

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NAME: David Rothburn of Quilter Cheviot

FUN FACT: Assets under management at Rothburn’s Manchester office have quadrupled to £475 million since he took over in 2002

WHAT WE LEARNED: How he is balancing the tension between scale and personalisation in the combined Quilter Cheviot group

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Rothburn explains Manchester IFAs are the engine of the company’s asset growth

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NAME: James Fleming of Arbuthnot Latham

FUN FACT: Fleming is self-effacing to a fault, only agreeing to the interview under the stipulation we keep it strictly business

WHAT WE LEARNED: How Arbuthnot Latham has become the stock market darling of the banking sector, and how the company intends to keep the love affair going

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Arbuthnot is currently one of the most interesting names in private banking and Fleming explains how it intends to grow without falling into the pitfalls of its larger competitors

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NAME: Andrew Clark of Jupiter

FUN FACT: Willingness to play the ‘floppy-haired gaijin willing to make a fool of himself’ was the secret to Clark’s success as a Briitish banker in Japan in a previous life

WHAT WE LEARNED: Why he jumped ship from Schroders to Jupiter and how the private client team is leveraging off Jupiter Merlin

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Clarke explains how the company is avoiding ‘cannibalising’ its multi-manager range with model portfolio launches and why adviser charging rather than fund charging is the most troublesome point about RDR distribution

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NAME: Matthew Phillips of Broadstone

FUN FACT: Phillips believes lifestyle planning is the future, but wishes it were called something more snappy

WHAT WE LEARNED: Quite a lot – Phillips barely paused for breath in 90 minutes. Very briefly, investment is headed towards an entirely commoditised future and bespoke will soon be illegal

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: In what might be a nightmare vision of the future for discretionary management but cheering for advisers, he describes why he is convinced that the financial planner is now the value adding link in the chain

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NAME: Sam Liddle of Albemarle Street Partners

FUN FACT: Has a seal named after him

WHAT WE LEARNED: Albemarle is something a little different, offering investment consultancy to financial advisers who want to DIY but don’t feel their skillsets are quite up to speed

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: With a wealth of in-house experience (the company also employs former Skania IM chief investment officer Clive Hale and former Williams de Broe head of fund research Dan Kemp) Liddle provides an insight into the intersection between adviser and manager

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NAME: Raj Shah of Charles Stanley

FUN FACT: Low levels of red tape and relative manager autonomy helped attract Shah to Charles Stanley from his previous employer Brown Shipley

WHAT WE LEARNED: Why Manchester is still not as ‘cut-throat’ as London and how the local office of Charles Stanley is driving a 30% year-on-year increase in client assets

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Shah explains the relative merits of two of wealth management’s mid-tier heavyweights

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NAME: Michael Lally of Thesis

FUN FACT: Lally is the spitting image of the Werthers Original grandfather

WHAT WE LEARNED: The charm of being consistently second quartile and how to square the circle of creativity with compliance

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Lally manages the Thesis Optima Bond portfolio in addition to managing its Chichester office and being head of research, and he explains his punchy duration plays

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NAME: Tim Stalkartt of Bestinvest

FUN FACT: Started his career on the Lloyds market before realising that underwriting was ‘very dull’

WHAT WE LEARNED: How to manage multiple business channels without losing your identity and why a three-way client relationship is better than one-on-one

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The company is leveraging off its discount-broker asset base to carve a larger role for itself in wealth management

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NAME: Stephen Black and Ian McElroy of Tier One Capital

FUN FACT: Black did not write the book on structured products but is more or less writing one, currently doing a Phd on the topic

WHAT WE LEARNED: The magic ratio of managers to clients, why suitability does not mean standardisation and how to do a cash management platform properly

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The duo have a wealth of experience and a lot of enthusiasm for what they do, and a lot of ideas about how they can do it better

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NAME: Nick Hungerford of Nutmeg

FUN FACT: Hungerford initially fell in love with tech during a gap year in Silicon Valley

WHAT WE LEARNED: Probably the closest thing we featured to a genuinely disruptive business model all year, the low-cost web based discretionary service hopes to do to wealth management what Amazon did to retail

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The incumbent wealth management industry is in Hungerford’s sights – rather than just hoovering up the under-advised middle-classes, he believes what he has to offer will change the sector radically

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NAME: Neil Darke of Canaccord Wealth Management

FUN FACT: Darke has doubled the size of the business since 2009

WHAT WE LEARNED: The company formerly known as Collins Stewart has metamorphosed from a small Channel Islands business to become the national champion of a global giant. Darke explains how the company can sustain that rate of growth

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Darke has played a game of four dimensional chess putting the pieces of various acquisitions together while also slotting the group into the Canadian banking giant. Find out how he did it and his views on what the future holds

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NAME: Jay Goss of Aston Wealth Management

FUN FACT: The west African specialist doesn’t want to give the impression he goes to work with handgun and body armour, but he admits that his training as an ex-marine is useful when risk-assessing a trip to see clients in Libya

WHAT WE LEARNED: The small wealth advisory is working at the literal frontier of wealth management growth, catering to expat clients in the Nigerian oil delta

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Probably not because what the company does has much similarity to the average wealth manager, but possibly because his job does sound quite good fun

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NAME: James Baxter of Tideway Investment Partners

FUN FACT: Baxter was runner up in the sailing world championship in 1984

WHAT WE LEARNED: The ultra-cautious investment house predominately specialises in private client bond management on the premise that it ‘won’t invest in anything where it is a game of odds’

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: In the still broker-rooted world of UK wealth management the company is genuinely doing something audaciously different

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NAME: Andrew Morris, then of Rowan Dartington

FUN FACT: Within just a few months of this profile, company co-founder Morris had left to join Bristol rival RC Brown. He also has a spectacular moustache

WHAT WE LEARNED: While his break with the company did not come for a few months, even at the time his involvement seemed a little nebulous. He explains how the company is playing catch up in the race to run adviser assets

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: As a historical curiosity now that he has led a splinter group out of the company

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NAME: Darren Ruane & Andrew Summers of Investec Wealth

FUN FACT: ‘This is not a consensual democracy,’ says Summers, head of Investec’s £7 billion collectivised fund service

WHAT WE LEARNED: How the co-heads of the consolidated group’s funds analysis are beating an unwieldy empire into some kind of coherent shape

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Unsurprisingly these are two fund analysts at the top of their game, and they explain how Investec is bringing some sense to a hereditary list of 300 funds bequeathed by the company’s various acquisitions

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NAME: Harry Morgan of Thomas Miller

FUN FACT: Morgan has spent two separate periods at the top of Adams Bank leaving for a second time in 2012 after RBS forced it into a closer union with its private banking division

WHAT WE LEARNED: Why Miller believes any sane observer should conclude that the ‘very tough’ wealth management industry is a ‘terrible place’ to invest in, but why he is still optimistic

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Brutally clear eyed about some of the pressures currently grinding down income in the sector he nonetheless thinks the time is right for a ‘challenger brand’

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NAME: Robert Smoker of Brown Shipley

FUN FACT: Smoker has spent more than 35 years in the company, joining as a corporate banker in 1977 and rising to head its London division

WHAT WE LEARNED: The company sees the capital as its next big area of geographical opportunity

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The last 18 month has seen a ‘not painless’ restructuring (several senior staff have since stepped down) but he says the company is now positioned for future growth

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NAME: Chris Taylor of the Investment Bridge

FUN FACT: Taylor is currently fixing up a derelict French chateau, but is unsure of whether he will turn it into a trout fishery or yoga retreat

WHAT WE LEARNED: The founder and former chief executive of structured product specialist Blue Sky Asset Management is now offering his skills to private client managers as a structured product architect

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The structured product industry is entering a new stage of its evolution and providers need private clients more than private clients need them – which creates interesting opportunities, he says

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NAME: Chet Helk of Raymond James

FUN FACT: Began his professional life in the glamorous world of tractor manufacturer John Deere

WHAT WE LEARNED: The international network’s global private client chief executive explains how the business is using its heft to drive the regulatory conversation

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The company’s UK chief executive Peter Moores also gate-crashed the conversation to explain how the group is dealing with the flow of regulation out of Brussels

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NAME: Paul Nixon of Vestra

FUN FACT: The head of the company’s US client division's dedication to trans-Atlanticism has caused him to take up American Football

WHAT WE LEARNED: Why smaller companies should not fear Fatca, despite the near four million clauses of the US tax code and the importance of specialist accountants

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: How smaller businesses can tackle Fatca and even turn it to their advantage with some specialist input

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NAME: Barry McCorkell of Aubrey Capital

FUN FACT: The company was almost killed in its infancy in the crash of 2008 before diversifing from packaged funds into private clients

WHAT WE LEARNED: A tutelage at Stewart Ivory – now First State – is a pretty good grounding to manage private client money

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Having been through a near-death experience and taken 20% external capital McCorkell is under no illusions about what a boutique needs to do to make the balance sheets add up

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NAME: Chris Kenny of Smith & Williamson

FUN FACT: Kenny followed his father into the industry and has bought things full circle, now managing his dad’s money

WHAT WE LEARNED: How segmentations is driving S&W’s client acquisition and how a gamble on a Dublin office in 2011, ‘going in at the same time as the IMF’, is now paying off in spades

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: He explains why a an office which looks like a ‘refugee camp with a shared belief that there is a right way to look after clients’ is a strength

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NAME: Andrew Moore of L&P IFA

FUN FACT: The now co-director got into the business on the strength of his language skills in dealing with a primarily French client base

WHAT WE LEARNED: How an ‘old fashioned’ IFA got into discretionary investment and how this leaves the company free of some cultural baggage

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: A small business, it nonetheless has a sector leading approach to investment transparency

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NAME: George King of RBC

FUN FACT: When he transferred from institutional to private client management King says the sums involved initially sounded like ‘rounding errors’

WHAT WE LEARNED: How a top-six global player is bringing its weight to bear on a jurisdiction where it has in recent times punched below its weight

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Having rejuvenated its platform, King explains how the company is now building growth from it

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NAME: Sam Jeffries of Sarasin

FUN FACT: The head of fund selection and private clients at the company hates to stand still. ‘There is always a full day’s worth of news on our Bloomberg screens every day.’

WHAT WE LEARNED: How to avoid turning into an ‘expensive tracker fund’

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Learn how the company has driven average growth of £1 billion a year over the last 10 years and some of Jeffries favoured funds

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NAME: Eric Barnett of SGPB Hambros

FUN FACT: Barnett is one of the very few bank chief executives in the UK whose tenure pre-dates 2008

WHAT WE LEARNED: How retail banks have outpaced the private client sector in their use of technology and how making up the difference will help the company double its asset in five years

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Barnett explains how the company is exploiting the heritage of the Hambros name within the umbrella of a global giant

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NAME: Richard & Tim Venner of Charles Stanley

FUN FACT: To the best of our knowledge, the only identical twin co-heads of a UK wealth management office

WHAT WE LEARNED: How the company’s Birmingham office justified quadrupling its head count in 2.5 years

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The brothers explain why they sold their previous business, Jobson James, to Charles Stanley in 2011 and growth factors in the UK’s second city

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NAME: Penny Lovell of Close Bros Asset Management

FUN FACT: Lovell has instituted a Dragon’s Den-style panel for young entrepreneurs

WHAT WE LEARNED: The head of the company’s private client service explains how she has innovated in her first year of Close

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Catering for clients with assets between £1,000 to £10 million means a lot of different constituents to please – she explains how the company is keeping its client approval rating in the high 90s

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NAME: Tony Overy of Saunderson House

FUN FACT: Saunderson House MD Overy is a guiding light in the City’s Schools to Business project, involving local youths in small businesses

WHAT WE LEARNED: How Overy is convinced that Saunderson House is the only wealth manager to be RDR-compliant for almost 20 years and how he is emphasising continuity rather than change since taking over from Nick Fletcher in 2011

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: He explains how the company increased its assets from £1.5 billion to £3 billion between 2007 and 2013 wholly through organic growth

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NAME: Murray Smith of Mattioli Woods

FUN FACT: What began as a ‘lifestyle business’ was one of the best performing listed wealth managers of 2013

WHAT WE LEARNED: The company has gone from being a challenger brand in wealth management to something like a national insurgent through a targeted strategy of acquisitions and new services

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Historically a Sipp provider, the company has leveraged off that asset platform and network of business clients to launch a national discretionary business

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NAME: Heather Maizels of Victoria Private Office

FUN FACT: Maizels began as a barrister but decided she couldn’t face spending an entire career arguing with people

WHAT WE LEARNED: Having launched Barclay’s private bank with a team of five 19 years ago, Maizels believes the cycle has shifted to put the wind behind the sails of boutiques

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Maizels admits she helped create something of a monster at Barclays and explains how and why she has her sights set on doing things differently

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NAME: Simon Dewar & John Gunn of Rathbones

FUN FACT: Gunn says anyone launching a new business has to accept ‘lots of kissing frogs and not a lot of rewards for your efforts’

WHAT WE LEARNED: How the pension sub-division of Edinburgh’s Rathbones office is carving out a niche for themselves in the Scottish capital

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: How the company’s reluctance to head into pure model-based portfolios is drawing frustrated investment talent

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NAME: StJohn Gardner of Arbuthnot Latham

FUN FACT: Gardner initially dreamed of an ‘out-doorsy’ job before his father gently steered him toward the City

WHAT WE LEARNED: Gardner, the company’s head of investment management, has helped increase the company’s assets fivefold (albeit from a low base) over the last five years

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Why he believes that client demands haven’t changed in a decade but supply innovation can create entirely new investment markets

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NAME: Alan McIntosh of Quilter Cheviot

FUN FACT: a self-described ‘control freak’ McIntosh says this keeps him well out of larger companies

WHAT WE LEARNED: How the company has managed the integration of Quilter and Cheviot

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The company’s chief investment strategist and manager of the company’s Discovery Balanced fund is AA-rated by Citywire; he introduces some of his current top stock picks

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NAME: Peter Hall of Bestinvest

FUN FACT: Hall says that the company was ‘flat-lining’ when he joined as CEO in 2010 but has now been built to the point where he believes it can be a genuine force for consolidation

WHAT WE LEARNED: The former head of UBS’s UK private client service says he is shocked by how dispersed the industry remains and says a company with deep pockets – such as his – can clean up

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: For a veteran’s insight into how the industry will shape up over the next five years

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NAME: Noland Carter of Heartwood

FUN FACT: the Heartwood CIO explains how his life-long missions is to only ‘hire people that are brighter and better than myself’

WHAT WE LEARNED: Heartwood’s sale to Sweden’s Handlesbanken in 2013 took many by surprise, and he explains why he took the decision

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Much of the surprise at the time was due to the fact that Heartwood seemed to be the model of a bullishly successful business – Noland explains why he is certain that Handlesbanker recognises that if it isn’t broke, they won’t try to fix it

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NAME: Delyth Richards of Kleinwort Benson

FUN FACT: Richards relishes her unpopularity with ‘certain fund sales people' due to her rigorous adherence to the company’s internal data screen

WHAT WE LEARNED: The head of the bank’s fund selection process explains what she looks for in a fund, and why you have to get up pretty early to pull one on her over numbers

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: One of Wealth Manager’s UK Top 100 powerlist of British fund-buyers explains how she manages the company’s buylist

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NAME: Andrew Fisher of Towry

FUN FACT: What was intended to be an interim six-month tenure at the company has turned into eight event-filled and controversial years for the chief executive

WHAT WE LEARNED: While we already kind of it knew it, the interview served to remind us that Fisher is not afraid to tell it as he sees it

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: A no-holds barred one-on-one with one of the sectors few genuine originals, he explains why the regulators were right to ‘give us and the industry a kick up the backside’

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NAME: Rohit Ahluwalia of DPZ Capital

FUN FACT: DPZ Capital’s head of fund selection Ahluwalia sees his job as mining the more esoteric fringes of the investment industry: ‘We have developed to do what a lot of the bigger names won’t or can’t do’

WHAT WE LEARNED: That there is a wealth of excellent funds out there for the smaller selector that rarely make it onto multi-billion pound buylists

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: The laid-back and urbane Canadian talks us through his process and some of the curiosities it has led him to

NAME: Paul Surguy of Sanlam

FUN FACT: Surguy graduated with a degree in computer science and brings the same systematic methodical approach to his current role picking funds

WHAT WE LEARNED: How the consolidated and expanded Sanlam group is now rebuilding its processes behind the scenes to keep things moving forward

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: One of the more energetic consolidators operating at the fringes of UK wealth management, many will be wondering how successful it will be. We attempt to find the answer

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NAME: Martin Bellamy of Salamanca Group

FUN FACT: Believes the company has an opportunity to break ground in wealth management due to the fact that the big banks ‘were very thick’

WHAT WE LEARNED: The chief executive of the merchant banking group has always offered private client services at the fringes but is now gearing up a full-service advisory business

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: As an acquisitive outsider Salamanca believes in is well placed to locate and exploit the failings of traditional providers

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