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Cover star club: the 46 discretionaries we grilled in 2012

Discretionaries have skillfully navigated the challenges of the past year in preparation for the RDR-world. Wealth Manager magazine profiled a number of teams and individuals over the year to get fascinating insights into the way they operate.  

Neill Blanks & Andrea di Nisio - Dalton Strategic

The history of Dalton Strategic Partnership has largely been built on the foundation of strong personalities understood as having a certain amount in common: highly erudite, larger than life, conservative with a large but not necessarily a small c, and possessed of a generous helping of old-fashioned bonhomie.

Founder Andrew Dalton and current CIO Rupert Caldecott – both cultured, thoughtful, literate and built to a recognisable model that made the pre-big bang Square Mile the place it was – fit the mould.

It is one the reasons that Dalton’s death in March last year following a sudden heart attack was felt as such a loss at the company: the impression given by staff is that he had not so much recruited a team as curated a group of people and personalities he enjoyed, and whose company and intelligence he valued.

Having profiled Caldecot roughly a year ago, Wealth Manager thought it was time to catch up with Blanks, a portfolio manager, and di Nisio, a partner at Dalton, as it moved forward from this period of change.

Read the profile in full.

Neill Blanks & Andrea di Nisio - Dalton Strategic

The history of Dalton Strategic Partnership has largely been built on the foundation of strong personalities understood as having a certain amount in common: highly erudite, larger than life, conservative with a large but not necessarily a small c, and possessed of a generous helping of old-fashioned bonhomie.

Founder Andrew Dalton and current CIO Rupert Caldecott – both cultured, thoughtful, literate and built to a recognisable model that made the pre-big bang Square Mile the place it was – fit the mould.

It is one the reasons that Dalton’s death in March last year following a sudden heart attack was felt as such a loss at the company: the impression given by staff is that he had not so much recruited a team as curated a group of people and personalities he enjoyed, and whose company and intelligence he valued.

Having profiled Caldecot roughly a year ago, Wealth Manager thought it was time to catch up with Blanks, a portfolio manager, and di Nisio, a partner at Dalton, as it moved forward from this period of change.

Read the profile in full.

Ben Mountain & Charles Hepworth - Quilter

Although Quilter has seen its ownership change several times, the investment management business has retained clear continuity among its staff.

Charles Hepworth, head of the firm’s managed portfolio service (MPS), and Ben Mountain, head of investment fund research, are a testimony to this, having been at the firm for 17 and 12 years respectively.

‘There is a very long service for the majority of the staff here because it is a very stable offering,’ Hepworth says.

Read the profile in full.

Roy Ettlinger - Credo Capital

From a journalist’s perspective, the heart may sink a little at the prospect of interviewing Credo Capital.

A multi-billion, multi-service group headquartered in St James’s and with a major presence in South Africa and Switzerland? Past experience summons the memory of somewhat guarded interviewees flanked by PRs in what amounts to a very controlled environment, waving away questions with a cool and formal certainty Wealth Manager’s readers would not be interested.

Roy Ettlinger, chief executive and a co-founder of Credo, neatly confounds those prejudices as he enters the room.

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Richard Charnock & Eddy Reynolds - Standard Life Wealth

‘Impressive isn’t it?’ asks Richard Charnock, looking out at the enormous swathe of south and east London laid out beneath the picture windows of Standard Life Wealth’s (SLW) office. ‘I signed the lease on it,’ he adds with something like proprietorial pride.

SLW’s executive director is, of course, referring to the 34th floor of 30 St Mary Axe – the Gherkin to you and me – rather than the billions of pounds of real estate that are visible on a clear day, out to Canary Wharf, the Olympic site, and all the way to the Kent and Essex borders.

The impression one gets from a meeting with the company is that its ambition is scarcely contained by a single floor of one of the City’s most prestigious addresses, however.

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Ian Brady & Jeremy Arthur - OakTree Wealth

Setting up a wealth management business in the midst of the 2008 credit crisis could be considered bordering on reckless. However, OakTree Wealth Management founders Ian Brady and Jeremy Arthur say it has proved a risk worth taking.

‘[OakTree] was entirely the brainchild of Jeremy,’ says Brady, OakTree’s chief investment officer. ‘He had been a director at Towry and was in business development at Anderson Charnley.

‘He also lives in Henley and had used the Invesco Perpetual fund of funds that I used to run, and our wives were on the board of governors at our children’s school. Jeremy had been on at me for a couple of years, saying “the industry is changing and there are very few companies that can marry all-of-life holistic planning with an institutional fund management capability”.

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Claire Bennison - Brooks Macdonald

The concept of starting work at 5.30am is generally unthinkable to the modern office worker. So ingrained in the daily rush hour battle are many that they could not conceive of beginning the day in the pre-dawn hours.

But that’s the kind of commitment Claire Bennison, Brooks Macdonald’s regional head and boss of the Manchester office, has shown for the bulk of her career.

This meant a period spent training for a marathon saw her running from a smart suburban borough to the City through London’s Elephant & Castle – an area that could kindly be described as ‘gritty’ – at 3.30am.

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Elizabeth Carr-Stevens - Hartmann Capital

There are arguably two schools of thought about the merits of launching a business in the current uncertain regulatory and economic climate: one that you couldn’t pick a worse moment given the current flight to safety, and the other that the time is ripe to capitalise on the changes facing the industry.

Elizabeth Carr-Stevens, managing director of wealth management at Hartmann Capital, is firmly in the latter camp.

‘We are starting with a clean slate and all of our systems are being created around the current regulatory environment,’ she says. ‘We are very lucky from that point of view – we don’t have a large legacy business.’

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Tracy Maeter - RBC Wealth Management

In many respects, RBC Wealth Management could be said to have been hiding its light under a bushel in recent years, but the firm is intent on making the UK its third home.

Part of Royal Bank of Canada, the group is the sixth largest wealth manager in the world and it is now putting in place aggressive expansion plans.

Tracy Maeter, RBC Wealth Management’s head of investment for the British Isles, a remit that includes the UK and the Channel Islands, says the firm is set to embark on a big marketing push to raise brand awareness and broaden out its client base.

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Petronella West - Investment Quorum

A revealing moment in Wealth Manager’s interview with Petronella West, head of private clients at Investment Quorum: explaining why the company still takes the time to arrange mortgages despite the death of broker-exclusive deals since 2007, West says the danger of retreating from a full service is that clients will ‘end up being siphoned off by Coutts, or whoever’.

It’s not so much the circles that the former mass-market advisory is now moving in – the company has had a discretionary offering for years now – more the awareness that the flow of traffic doesn’t just move one way, and that the firm has something that others would dearly like.

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David Stearn - Affinity Wealth

Deciding to leave a senior role in an established private bank to set up your own wealth boutique no doubt represents one of the most difficult decisions any investment manager could face during their career.

Throw in an ongoing eurozone debt crisis, volatile markets and growing regulation simmering in the background and you have definitely set yourself a challenge. But David Stearn, one of the founders of Jersey-based boutique Affinity Private Wealth, says it is a decision he is unlikely to look back on with regret.

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Daniel Faulkner - Rathbones

For many a wealth manager building a career outside the capital, the notion that a period spent in London is essential for the CV is an enduring one.

This was no less the case for Rathbones’ Birmingham office head, Daniel Faulkner, who admits that at one point he thought a stint in the capital was the best way to get ahead in his career.

‘At the beginning of my career I always thought I wanted to go to London and you had to get the experience of working there because when I was 16, that’s where everything seemed to be centred,’ he says.

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Jenny Tozer - Vestra Wealth

Being born in Australia, Vestra Wealth’s investment director Jenny Tozer is probably more used to long haul flights than most, but it was a weariness of jet-lag that played a large part in prompting her to move into wealth management.

She re-located to the UK in 1985 to join brokers Hoare Govett, advising on what at that point were considered emerging markets, such as Singapore and Australia, and ‘if you were really racy, Malaysia and Thailand’.

Like many of her peers, she learnt the ropes during the Big Bang, boom and bust of the late 1980s, but after spending six years as a sell-side analyst, she felt it was time to move on.

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Martin King - Signia

Launching a regional strategy may like sound a no-brainer, but many private banks and wealth managers have tried and failed in recent years.

The appeal of casting the net wider and the reality of being able to attract new clients have been poles apart for a whole range of financial institutions. One failing of a number of firms is to simply parachute in a team from London and arrogantly assume that affluent individuals will flock to their shiny new premises.

Signia Wealth is the latest firm to branch out of London, opening a Birmingham office in January, but it has sought to minimise the risks and maximise the opportunities by hiring in Martin King, a veteran of the local wealth management scene, and indeed a local man, to lead the operation.

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Arnaud Gandon - Heptagon Capital

Arnaud Gandon, Heptagon Capital’s soft-spoken chief investment officer, credits spending the first five years of his life in Gabon for helping develop his love of travel and interest in other cultures. That does not, though, extend as far as having a desire to spend any more time than strictly necessary in Geneva.

Following a parabolic rise through the ranks of Union Bancaire Privée (UBP), which saw him appointed head of global equity at the then rapidly growing bank while still in mid-30s, it was the realisation that his career path could only end in the sleepy Swiss Canton that prompted him to reconsider its merits.

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Simon Lloyd - Murray Asset Management

As the world emerges from the most profound and far-reaching financial crisis since the Great Depression, Murray Asset Management’s chief investment officer Simon Lloyd is cautiously optimistic.

He is not only positive about the equity markets over the longer term, but also hopes the Edinburgh-based boutique will be well positioned for growth, particularly with the onset of the retail distribution review (RDR) in January 2013.

The firm was formerly the investment management and financial planning division of law firm Murray Beith Murray, but was spun out and made independent in March 2008. It was a decision that was driven in part by changes to regulation and capital adequacy, together with the motivation to boost growth in the business as a standalone.

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Mark Atherton - EFG Harris Allday

Many a schoolboy has felt puzzled by the financial world, a universe so seemingly arcane that often youngsters are left baffled by what appears to be a jargon-filled, esoteric industry.

Luckily, the young Mark Atherton, now director of EFG Harris Allday’s Birmingham office, had the alacrity to pen letters to leading newspaper editors asking for some help.

‘I started to read the financial press and decided it was fascinating, but I couldn’t understand some of it. I wrote to the editors of the Financial Times and The Times and asked them for some guidance as to how to read it,’ he remembers.

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Charles Turton - Charles Stanley

Despite only having decided to up sticks and change jobs once in his career, Charles Stanley’s Charles Turton has worked for a surprisingly large number of private client managers in his time.

Few other sectors have seen as much consolidation as financial services over the years and Turton’s Guildford office could almost be used as a barometer of the changing face of wealth management over the past two decades.

After graduating from Durham University, he joined the local office of Greig Middleton in 1994 as a trainee stockbroker. The firm later merged with Allied Provincial, before being acquired by Gerrard Vivian Gray and merging with Capel Cure Sharp to morph into Gerrard Investment Management and then later Barclays Wealth in 2003.

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Marco Pabst - ACPI

On the fairly limited evidence available, winning a stock selection competition in the papers might not be regarded as the most intellectually rigorous launch pad for a career in asset management.

For good or bad, the poster child for the strategy remains Jayesh Manek, whose spectacularly volatile and momentum-driven Manek Growth has shed around three quarters of assets in the past 10 years, sliding from a pre-tech bubble peak of £300 million down to a current figure of £24 million.

Marco Pabst, chief investment officer at boutique ACPI, also found his interest in investment piqued by winning a newspaper competition in the early 1990s, within a year of Manek’s fateful triumph in the Sunday Times league. His investment style has evolved more obviously since then, however.

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John Clarke - GHC Capital Markets

John Clarke is annoyed. Annoyed enough to take to the Wealth Manager and Financial Times online comment sections to wage war on the forces of ignorance.

Annoyed enough to take it upon himself to publicly debate Haig Bathgate – a man regarded as one of the smartest investment minds in British wealth management – at length, with citations. Annoyed enough to hand out his personal phone number to anyone who might need the matter clarified further.

The source of his irritation? For those who may have missed the original meeting of minds, Clarke, head of asset allocation at GHC Capital Markets, is bothered about quantitative easing – or to be more exact, a misunderstanding of what QE was expected to achieve, and how we should measure its success or failure.

Read the profile in full.

Caroline Mair & Caroline Tye - Newton

Newton Private Client Business’s decision to move up the value chain and increase its investment minimums last year caught many in the industry by surprise.

Some competitors greeted the news with open arms in the hope of picking up the firm’s existing discretionary clients with portfolios sub-£500,000. For others, the decision reflected a recognition that the growing costs associated with running smaller mandates has made the exercise unviable for some.

At the time, the firm also took the opportunity to introduce a minimum investment threshold of £1 million for new clients. Existing clients with less than £500,000 were offered the option to top up, transfer into Newton’s retail fund range or join an alternative manager.

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Lorne Baring - B Capital

Ultra-efficient, secrecy-ridden and not very good at bridging the cultural divide of working in the UK; these are the stereotypes that generally spring to mind when one considers the Swiss banking model.

Against this backdrop, running a boutique from offices in London and Geneva might seem like an additional headache for a new player, particularly given the regular drip-feed of less than positive news about Swiss banking, but this is how B Capital began life, with two offices set up simultaneously at launch in 2008.

The reason, founder Lorne Baring says, is that the mechanics of Swiss banking are ‘on an operational level, like stainless steel’, and as such he has sought to bring a touch of this ‘really good’ system to London through B Capital.

Read the profile in full.

Nancy Curtin - Close Asset Management

From eyeing up private equity deals in the former East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall to chasing investment opportunities in post-Soviet Siberia, Close Brothers Asset Management’s intrepid Nancy Curtin has pretty much seen it all.

Indeed, it is safe to say that very few chief investment officers have the sheer breadth of experience working across multiple asset classes that she brings to the table.

After starting out in her native America as a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley, she later moved across to Credit Suisse First Boston in New York.

But after repeatedly being asked by people where they should invest their money – ‘at the time I was doing IPOs, swaps and the like, so I was restricted on talking about it’ – she decided to move over to the buy side.

Read the profile in full.

Graeme Clark - Courtiers

Given the recent direction of political polling, Graeme Clark, head of private clients at Courtiers, may be feeling fairly happy with life.

Gary Reynolds, Courtiers chief investment officer and co-founder, describes him as ‘the only socialist in wealth management’ although given the 10 minutes of good-humoured back-and-forth that follows, one suspects this says more about the healthy state of Courtiers’ inter-office banter than it does about Clark’s views on historical inevitability or dialectical materialism.

For the record, it’s hard to imagine him raising a red banner or leading a rousing chorus of the Internationale, although in his views about client equality and their equal entitlement to a fair and honest service he is fairly militant.

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Eric Clapton - Wells Capital

In the greater scheme of things, Hackney, east London, is not geographically a million miles from Royal Tunbridge Wells. Culturally however, it may as well be in a different galaxy: despite the ongoing march of gentrification and the fact that the local Clapton Road has not seen enough homicides to justify its Murder Mile sobriquet for a decade or so, it’s still no Royal-Chartered spa town.

Hackney resident Eric Clapton (no relation) appears to be bridging the cultural divide with relative ease. Since signing up as managing director of Wells Capital, formerly Fund Intelligence, he works in the putative capital of Middle England, though the recent weather hasn’t making life ideal for commuting on motorbike.

But then he has always had a foot in both camps, growing up the son of a banker father in the east London borough of Barking – at that time still part of Essex – and a regular at Tottenham Hotspur’s White Hart Lane for long enough that he can remember when a ticket cost half a crown.

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Peter Fernandes - Smith & Wiliamson

Managing egos within a business and deciding on an appropriate profit margin represent perhaps two of the larger unacknowledged challenges for the investment management industry today.

Smith & Williamson’s head of investment management Peter Fernandes is remarkably open on both points. On the margin front, he says the firm’s independence allows it to resist pressure from short-termist shareholders seeking to raise profitability to the potential detriment of staff and clients over the longer term.

He explains: ‘The danger with these businesses is that if you are in a bigger institution, you can end up turning the margin screw up too high and eventually something will break. You can boil frogs for so long, but eventually they will jump out of the pot. I know we could crank margins another 10% from here but it will be at the cost of losing clients and fund managers along the way.

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Bruce Johnson - JM Finn

Today’s investment universe is populated by a multitude of options, where both the canny and the wily alike can diversify, speculate and accumulate to their heart’s content.

In the face of a seemingly endless array of products, some managers prefer to stay with the basics, stalwartly determined not to do anything ‘exciting’ with client money.

This is the stance taken by Bruce Johnson, senior investment manager at JM Finn’s Ipswich office, who prefers a simple approach to investing. Despite equity markets having recently taken a battering not seen for decades, he has 70%-80% of a portfolio invested in direct equities.

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Ian Marsh - FF&P

For a brand that has nearly 140 years of investment heritage behind it, Fleming Family & Partners (FF&P) gives every impression of being an organisation in a hurry.

While the current iteration is little more than 10 years old – formed to help manage the $7.7 billion the family received for the sale of its historic merchant bank Robert Fleming & Company to JP Morgan in 2000 – the company has been writing cheques at a dramatic pace since 2010, as it overhauled its investment process and client-facing proposition to fuel expansion.

That investment in human capital led to it signing up Daniel Briggs (formerly of Sarasin where he was AA-rated by Citywire); buying a large stake in Asquith & Partners, the investment advisory business run by former Wealth Manager coverstar Richard Bertin; and poaching a clutch of relationship managers from blue chip rivals.

Read the profile in full.

Rod Gentry - European Wealth Management

If European Wealth Management (EWM) chief executive Rod Gentry can build a business with anything like the brisk efficiency with which he conducts an interview, then the company has a bright future ahead of it.

It should be mentioned that all the evidence suggests he can. Three years on from EWM’s incorporation and it has secured a string of deals that by 2013 is expected to have consolidated around £450 million in discretionary and advisory assets, with no sign of a slowdown.

Getting to this point has not necessarily been easy: his promotion to CEO of Ashcourt (now Ashcourt Rowan) as the financial world was imploding in 2008 might be considered coming up the hard way.

Read the profile in full.

Manish Singh - Crossbridge Capital

Crossbridge Capital’s head of investment Manish Singh has a passion for economics that dates back to his childhood and led to him spending stints advising both the then shadow chancellor George Osborne and the Treasury at different junctures.

A member of the Institute of Economic Affairs, Singh’s first degree was actually in chemical engineering before he moved to the UK from his native India and went on to complete a master’s in finance and management.

‘I studied engineering but it was really macro-economics that I loved,’ he says.

‘When I was young I used to read all of the newspapers and it got to the point that my mother would take them away and stack them up because she was worried that I wasn’t doing my homework.

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Andrew Ross - Cazenove

Cazenove Capital Management’s chief executive Andrew Ross could be described as a rare breed compared with some of his industry peers.

During discussions with even the most cool-headed of senior figures from the wealth management industry, one can normally detect an undertone of minor panic as the retail distribution review (RDR) deadline draws closer and challenges a number of business, distribution and charging models.

Ross, to the contrary, seems genuinely calm and optimistic in the face of regulatory change, which is being accompanied by the headwinds of stalling wealth creation and continued market uncertainty.

Read the profile in full.

Simon Walker - Cheviot

Chancing upon the right man to lead a new venture is a tall order for any business, but London-based investment manager Cheviot found Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management’s local man Simon Walker (pictured) at the right time to launch a Liverpool office.

Cheviot’s inaugural northerly branch opened in May 2011, headed by Walker who had spent 22 years with Tilney, rising from graduate to managing director through various takeovers.

Walker set the office up with help from a five-strong team from Deutsche Bank, and at the time Cheviot chief executive Michael Kerr-Dineen said he had set a target of £400 million in assets under management (AUM) for the new office.

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Neil Beaton - LJ Athene

Working in a renowned global organisation clearly has its benefits, but it was the conflicts of interest that can come with being part of such a large integrated service provider that prompted Neil Beaton and his team to up sticks and strike out alone.

He and his fellow directors had helped set up and build Deloitte Investment and Pension Consulting (IPC), an investment advisory business within the firm, which provided clients with asset allocation, manager selection and ongoing portfolio monitoring.

But despite their success, the team felt that being a smaller part of such a large group was actually inhibiting its potential.

‘We took the business out of Deloitte. They were a great supporter and parent, but we had grown to the stage where we could see the potential for internal conflicts of interest that could have hindered our ability to grow and flourish further,’ Beaton says.

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Stephen Peters - Charles Stanley

Stephen Peters was pretty much given free rein to develop his career when he joined Charles Stanley and he grasped the opportunity with both hands.

Originally brought in to lead its investment trust research, he has expanded his remit into open-ended funds and, at just 32, became co-manager of the Matterley International Growth fund and the group’s in-house collective portfolio service last April.

He said that when he joined the firm, his role was to act as the centralised mouthpiece, co-ordinating the group’s investment trust coverage, and act as a conduit for the experience and knowledge that was spread among its investment managers.

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Darren Zaman - DPZ Capital

The fallout from firms expanding into new non-core areas to grab a greater share of clients’ cash has caused the history of financial services to be littered with failures.

With this in mind, Jersey-based DPZ Capital’s founder and chief investment officer Darren Zaman argues the key to success is to stay focused on your core strengths and never willingly dilute your offering.

‘One of the things I absolutely believe in is focus. Because a lot of us have worked in the service business for 20-odd years, all you want to do is to solve everyone’s problems. You can kind of do everything. But really, what I wanted to be was absolutely focused.

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Mark Rushton - Walker Crips

As the march of industry change accelerates toward the retail distribution review (RDR), the market seems divided between those willing to try out new ventures, and those preferring the safety of a well-trodden path.

Walker Crips’ recently installed chief investment officer Mark Rushton is firmly in the former camp. Joining earlier this year after a stint as head of offering at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, Rushton plans to take Walker Crips from a successful but comfortable position as a mid-size listed stockbroker and asset manager to a leading role, exploring the possibilities of the post-RDR world.

Less than a year into the job, change is well and truly under way at Walker Crips and alongside chief executive Rodney Fitzgerald, Rushton has been instrumental in a number of significant, modernising developments.

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Toni Meadows - Ashcourt Rowan

Toni Meadows is a man who likes a challenge and the opportunity to stamp his own authority on a business undergoing change.

Joining Ashcourt Rowan as chief investment officer in March, he came on board at a time when the firm had already undergone something of a revolution since chief executive Jonathan Polin took the helm in August 2011.

‘I have worked in a number of businesses going through change and that is one of the things that attracted me to Ashcourt Rowan,’ Meadows says.

‘But I am no sucker for punishment. We had a lot here already – we are a decent size and have good client retention. We have had a change of management and have done a lot of work on the structure of the business. We now have a good base in place and are positioned for the next growth phase.’

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Robert Jukes - Collins Stewart

Modern portfolio theory (MPT) is dead, we just don’t realise it yet. Exactly four years on from a global crash that effectively demonstrated a portfolio of well diversified assets is not necessarily any protection against eye-watering losses, MPT's assumptions, zombie like, continue to lumber on.

Although academia has regarded the underlying assumptions of MPT as suspect for some years, it has yet to formulate a simple and widely accepted alternative.

Justified suspicion of quantitative, trend-driven and systematic trading systems (or, indeed, anything not easily explained to anyone untrained in degree-level mathematics) among managers and clients has further delayed the search for alternatives among discretionary managers.

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James Mahon - Church House Investment

One of the biggest paradoxes of fund management is that while its practitioners have an innate bias to cheerlead the values of entrepreneurialism, too many are content to toil in the middle ranks of faceless conglomerates, never risking their own capital or seeking to create wealth.

In addition to structural issues, managers all too often play it safe on the technical issues of their job. Why jeopardise that fat year-end performance bonus by stepping away from benchmarked security when moving with the herd is good enough to keep you sitting in the middle of a league table?

There are honourable exceptions to these rules of course, and over the course of his career James Mahon has cheerfully broken both of them. Now chief executive of Church House Investment Management, he has an avid business-building habit, and benchmarks only against client needs.

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Jonathan Bell - Stanhope Capital

One would imagine that developing the investment proposition for a private investment office that has amassed £4.7 billion in assets since its launch in 2004 is no easy feat.

While Stanhope Capital’s chief investment officer Jonathan Bell acknowledges the early years of the private investment office’s life were marked by hard graft, it has been a challenge he has relished.

‘Anyone who has started a business will tell you the problems about the hours you have to work to get things done. There was also the problem that until you got a proven track record, other people don’t want to come and join you. That was a period that was great to have had, but not something I want to repeat.’

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Richard Bonnor-Moris - Newscape Capital

Formative experiences don’t come much better than being shot at in Africa and working for Lehman Brothers at the time of its collapse. Richard Bonnor-Moris, now head of multi-asset at Newscape Capital, is perhaps unique in the wealth management world for having endured both.

Born into a nomadic military family, Bonnor-Moris left school for a gap year in Africa, at a time before jaunts abroad were a rite of passage for British teenagers. He came under fire from bandits in Central African Republic and, with a characteristic dryness describes his trip as ‘much more challenging than I thought it would be’.

His experiences in Africa made a significant impression, so much so that he lost contact with all his old friends and unlike the average 19-year-old started university ‘thinking the world was a pretty dire place’. ‘I came back quite different as a person,’ he states laconically.

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David Loudon - Quilter

Quilter’s broad geographic spread may be the envy of many wealth managers that aspire to have a national presence, but it did not happen overnight, being nearly two decades in the making.

David Loudon, now head of the group’s regional branch network, was the pioneer of its national expansion, brought in to head its first office outside London, which was opened in Birmingham back in 1994.

‘My brief there was to see if the regional office would work for Quilter,’ he says.

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Hilary and Nick Coghill - City Asset Management

While there are many routes into investment management, the industry is not an obvious place for someone with a background in medicinal cannabis research to end up. City Asset Management’s chief investment officer (CIO) Hilary Coghill actually started her career in one of the furthest places imaginable from the world of private client management.

Following a first degree in physiology and postgraduate study in pharmacology, she began researching the benefits of the medicinal use of cannabis derivatives for what was then SmithKline Beecham. Then came the demands of parenthood and a move to Kuwait, where she taught maths and had two more children before returning to the UK.

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David Burren - Warwick Butchart Associates

An old TV documentary trick comes to mind when interviewing David Burren, managing director and head of investment at wealth advisory Warwick Butchart Associates (WBA): focusing on a fuzzy, sepia-tinted image of daily life in olden times, the picture gradually fades to a pin-sharp picture of modernity.

WBA seems midway between the two shots, caught between the fadeout from past times and the arrival of a more technocratic, efficient but somehow colder present. Burren is ready to face the future – aged 60, he became a chartered wealth manager in June – but is reluctant to future-proof the business at the cost of giving up some of the things he believes make his job worthwhile.

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Deryck Noble-Nesbitt - Close Asset Management

The need to remain competitive in an ever more saturated investment management industry has meant countless new service launches by firms small and large.

Close Brothers Asset Management, with its nine offices nationwide and £8.3 billion in assets under management, is no different in its desire to scale up its product offering. Earlier this year it launched a tailored portfolio service (TPS), catering for clients with between £250,000 and £1 million, aiming to fill a gap in its coverage.

The man picked to lead the service is Deryck Noble-Nesbitt, best known for his fund management, after taking the Close Special Situations fund from a death-like state and delivering a 209.42% return from the market bottom in 2009. His other fund, Close Beacon Investment, had a similarly spectacular 2009, with a 151.7% return for the year as a whole.

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Nick Holmes and Andrew Shepherd - Brooks Macdonalds

The retail distribution review (RDR) and the potential for even more advisers to outsource investment is likely to further power growth at Brooks Macdonald, a firm known for its strong links with the adviser community.

But joint managing directors Andrew Shepherd and Nick Holmes – while aware of the opportunities the RDR will bring – view the self-invested pension plan (Sipp) market as having the greatest growth potential for the company.

‘The amount of money in poorly performing with-profits and managed funds is absolutely staggeringly enormous,’ Shepherd explains.

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Christopher Andrew - Clarmond House

Like many in the industry, Clarmond House chief executive Chris Andrew learned as much about what does not work as about what does in his formative years in the private client world.

Fast-tracked to become an investment manager at family office Consulta, he was thrown in at the deep end early on.

‘I went straight from university to a family office based in London at the age of 21 and I didn’t realise at the time that this was unusual,’ he says. ‘It was a single family office, a Latin American family with around $2 billion in assets with beneficiaries all over the world.

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