12 wealth and fund firms to watch in 2018
Last year saw a raft of consolidation across the wealth and funds industry as regulatory pressures mounted.
Yet these growing demands did not deter a number of wealth boutiques coming to market. At the same time digital wealth managers grew in prominence.
With Mifid II now officially in place, 2018 promises to be another eventful year with more M&A activity likely to be on the cards.
We highlight 12 firms which could be at the forefront of the action.
Deutsche Bank Wealth Management
After years of operating in the background and implementing a restructure that should help clarify its vision, Deutsche Bank Wealth Management is now ready for the spotlight. Back in June, it hired former Coutts chief executive Michael Morley (pictured) to build and lead its UK business. At the time, the bank said his appointment was the first of 100 it plans to make. It has already started with the news of Matthew Spencer, also from Coutts, joining the bank as a managing director in December. Will Morley continue to raid his old house for top talent? After running Coutts’ regional network for years, perhaps he will look to grow Deutsche’s nationwide presence as well.
Smith & Williamson
Smith & Williamson had a bit of an eventful year in 2017. First it was revealed that it was in talks with Rathbones over a merger deal which eventually fell through. During this time there were also rumours that Tilney had made an offer, which was never confirmed by either side. In the end, the firm, which had shelved plans for a float back in 2007, decided that the second time might be the charm, announcing its intent for an IPO. This year will see it prepare for the potential listing – expected in 2019 – and the firm has already bagged a big name, appointing industry veteran Andrew Fisher (pictured) as a non-executive director.
It seems wherever Jonathan Polin (pictured) goes, there is a flurry of activity. After he took the helm at Sanlam in 2015, the company underwent a significant restructure, merging its UK businesses into a single corporate entity. Since then Polin has made it clear he means business. He hired Close Brothers’ Penny Lovell to set up a private office division, brought in Neptune’s Charlie Parker as head of portfolio management, completed an estimated £1 million acquisition of Tavistock Financial and even hired ex-football pro Lanre Oyebanjo to bolster his investment team. It will be interesting to see where he takes Sanlam next, but one thing is certain: Polin has big plans for his new baby.
Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management
Last year saw Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management make its first purchase since the 2012 acquisition of Eden Financial. It completed the buy of Hargreave Hale in a deal worth £80 million, which will help the company establish an onshore regional presence in the UK. While the integration is expected to continue well into 2019, it is expected that chief executive David Esfandi (pictured) will be looking to bolster the teams that already exist as part of Hargreave Hale’s network. With the acquisition also came a slight headache in the form of an FCA investigation. The regulator alleged that four asset managers, including Hargreave Hale, may have broken competition law. While the FCA has not made a decision yet, Canaccord had already known about the review prior to the acquisition at least.
Old Mutual Global Investors – single strategy
In an impressive feat, Richard Buxton (pictured), chief executive of Old Mutual Global Investors, sealed a £600 million deal with private equity giant TA Associates to spin out the firm’s single strategy funds arm. The deal for the £25.7 billion business will complete once it receives all regulatory approvals. How will Buxton develop it further and what will Old Mutual do in the new Buxton-less era?
Old Mutual Wealth
Old Mutual has been preparing for the managed separation of a number of its businesses over the past year. This includes spinning out Old Mutual Wealth as a business in its own right. Not only that, but changes are also underway to make sure the company is ready for a listing on the stock exchange. With a total £106 billion in client assets, the giant must be difficult to manoeuvre. Not sure what else is left to do for Paul Feeney (pictured) to do until the company officially lists, but surely there will be a number of surprises in 2018.
European Wealth, or shall we say Kingswood now, has completely changed its vision over the last year. Instead of being just European, it has decided to go global and after deals that saw it expand its reach to South Africa and Singapore, the company announced the acquisition of Florida-based Newbridge. In an interview with Wealth Manager, the new chief executive of the company Marianne Ismail (pictured) said this was just the first in a number of moves ‘to become a really global distribution platform’. What other geographies will the new ‘European’ Wealth look to conquer in the new year?
So-called robo advisers are an increasingly interesting feature of the market. Their tech background means they are more likely to innovate, making them a fascinating study. Therefore Wealthsimple, the newcomer to the UK scene, is on the list of companies to watch. The company, led by Toby Triebel in Europe, has established itself in the more developed markets of the US and Canada, but how will it get on in the UK and will it be able to set itself apart from its competitors, such as Nutmeg and Wealthify?
Standard Life Aberdeen
Is it Aberdeen Standard, Standard Life Aberdeen or something else? After the mega-merger of the two asset manager, there was a fair bit of confusion. While the naming is now clearer and the merger complete, there are still a few questions that put it on the list of companies to watch in 2018. Combining two massive companies is no easy task so will there be more redundancies in the New Year? Will some fund managers want to leave because they do not want to be part of such a giant? And finally, will the combination of the two firms finally help to stem persistent outflows?
Rathbones has established itself as one of the leading wealth and asset management firms in the UK and even dipped its toe into the private office market. This year will be all about watching what the company decides to do next for growth. It will obviously develop its newly established private office, but it is also clearly on the lookout for a company to buy after the Smith & Williamson deal fell through. Could this also be the year that we see it expand its regional reach?
Another internationally recognised name trying to make its mark in the UK, Julius Baer pulled off a major coup last year, poaching nine planners and relationship managers – including regional directors – as part of its expansion plans. The move saw the business open up new offices in Manchester, Leeds and Scotland. So what’s next? Growing the new regional network will be the priority on the agenda and we should not rule out further hires across the country.
It seemed like for a number of years, the only news coming out of Charles Stanley was negative, with profit warnings, office closures and personnel exits. But, after years of restructuring, it is clear the company has turned a corner and we can expect more positive developments in 2018. It closed the year with the announcement of a new ‘super branch’. It also been building its D2C proposition Charles Stanley Direct under the leadership of Magnus Wheatley. CEO Paul Abberley (pictured) surely will now be looking to bolster the teams across the country as well with the firm’s contract wrangle with its wealth managers firmly in the rearview mirror.