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How Close plans to crack the multi-family office market

Close Brothers Asset Management is aiming to grow its presence in the multi-family office market under new head of private clients Penny Lovell.

With around 40% of the £2.2 billion that Close manages in bespoke mandates in the £5 million-plus bracket, Lovell says this – alongside the firm’s extensive platform – means it has laid solid foundations to offer clients a multi-family office-style service.

Under the stewardship of William Ladenburg, the firm plans to engage more actively with its family clients and external family offices to meet their differing and evolving needs. This could involve running mandates for family offices, or simply providing them with technology and support, Lovell said.

‘You may be a family who has made £20 million from the sale of a business and you want someone to look after it, or a family that wants a family office but doesn’t want the staff and the aggro,’ she said. ‘We can white-label through Close Brothers Asset Management and this is something we will look to help families with more.’

The firm will also work with family offices that may have significant assets under management but prefer to outsource in a certain area.

‘As an example, you could have a family that wants to run its own private equity portfolio and they just want some core investment management services. They can use us and have a dedicated portfolio manager, use our analysis or investment process,’ she said.

On the subject of picking up business from family offices looking to outsource certain functions, she added: ‘Effectively they are using our platform to tap into resources, which could be more cost efficient than bringing in their own team.’

Lovell, who joined Close from Rothschild Wealth Management back in November, said the firm is not looking to review its charging structure following the retail distribution review (RDR) and puts total expense ratios on portfolios run by the team at around 1%, depending how much is in collectives or direct equities.

‘RDR has brought some clarity, but there is still some way to go. I would like to think there are a lot of good wealth managers out there who are already on the road to transparency, and Close is definitely one of them. We are very mindful of costs in the portfolio,’ she said.

Lovell has been encouraged by the growing level of enquiries the firm has received from new clients, which she puts down to Close’s efforts to raise its profile coupled with strong investment performance over the past few years.

‘We are getting more business introductions than I have known in a good five years,’ she added.

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