When Mark Rushton (pictured) was a Wealth Manager cover star in 2012, he described his firm Walker Crips as a ‘hidden jewel’ in the City.
But now five years on with assets under management having more than quadrupled to £4.8 billion and 275-strong staff it is not so hidden anymore.
How did you grow the business in the last five years?
‘[Back then] we had sold the asset management business which meant the residual business was suffering a huge challenge to its profitability. The residual business was essentially a private client stockbroker, and investment manager and RDR was looming.
‘A stable and robust investment platform was essential so there were a couple of things that needed to be put in place, one of which was an investment process. I founded the Investment Senate, which is really just an investment committee.
‘Obviously, a lot needed to change, but the key values – integrity, courtesy, fairness, and diligence – they all existed. It just needed to be marshalled in a slightly different way.
‘There was a strategy put in place when I arrived almost exactly this time five years ago. One of the key ingredients of that was the growth in AUM and the instruction and bringing on of very capable new investment managers who were more towards the discretionary end.
‘We are now in a position where we had £4.8 billion in AUM at the end of September last year. That growth really is considerable when you think it was £1.4 billion in 2012.’
How has your role evolved?
‘In 2012 it was very much about building the basis. I have been working very closely with our chief executive Rodney FitzGerald to work out how we can either acquire businesses, which is always a challenge, or acquire individuals, which has been very fruitful.
‘If you look at a normal chief investment officer they are on a scale between somebody who sits in the corner strategising to someone who runs the business. I am way off on to the running of the business side and that has involved a huge amount of hiring.
‘The challenge is to find the people and to get them to come here.
‘It has gotten easier over the years. We have become more established. I think as we’ve grown and more people have joined people have seen that there is a very serious independent business here.
‘There is a secondary challenge of bringing clients over. The loyalty that is shown by the clients to the individual investment manager who we took on has proved to be very positive typically we are getting 70% of their clients. In one case a guy got 102% – so he’d taken all of his clients and a couple of new ones.’