If I told you it was home to a certain ‘fermented liquid condiment’, this city may not sound that enticing. However, if I told you it was home to local company Lea & Perrins, I think a large number of readers may change their mind. You guessed it, this week’s Pub Club brings us to Worcester, writes Eleanor Mahmoud.
I’m here to see Alex Sumner, an investment manager at Hargreave Hale’s Worcester office. We head towards The Crown Inn, a charming and rustic country pub in Hallow, a small village north of the city.
Having been featured in Wealth Manager’s Top 30 under 30 2017, Sumner has been recognised as a rising star in the industry. He tells me what he loves about his job.
‘I love the people side of the job – talking to people and finding out how they made their money,’ he says. ‘Money is a very personal thing; in fact, it’s about as personal as it gets.’
Sumner joined Hargreave Hale in 2009 in an administrative role. It was not long before he quickly progressed through the company and he is now a chartered wealth manager who sits on the office investment committee.
‘One of the most interesting parts for me is working with the self-made entrepreneurs. I’m interested in researching businesses so I enjoy working with these clients,’ he says.
Fortunately, the Midlands, as a historically manufacturing-heavy region, gives way to plenty of entrepreneurial clients. As well as this, it is obvious that Sumner enjoys building relationships with his clients.
‘Many come from personal introductions and family business, which is very rewarding and enables us to get to know the families well,’ he says.
‘We have an excellent client retention rate in Worcester – our clients are very loyal.’
The team of 14 recently moved offices to allow for growth, a sign that business in the Midlands is strong. The team pride themselves on knowing each other’s clients as well as their own.
Together they look after £610 million of assets under management (AUM), with about £500 million in their managed service.
As we tuck into our fish and chips, me having taken up Sumner’s lunch recommendation, I discover that Worcester is Hargreave Hale’s second biggest office outside London, in terms of AUM. Combined with Cannacord Genuity’s acquisition, Sumner will soon be part of a very big industry player, something he is proud of.
‘I’m excited about the Canaccord Genuity takeover and I feel the support of the bigger group is going to create some good opportunities.’
We discuss the mutual benefits of the acquisition, including the opportunity for Hargreave Hale to expand its intermediary offering – something Sumner is heavily involved in.
‘At the moment, I’m focusing strongly on increasing our interaction with IFAs through our DFM offering,’ he explains enthusiastically.
We finish off the last of our fish, chips and mushy peas (I should probably mention there was no Worcestershire sauce involved today). I’m keen to find out more about Sumner’s role on the local investment committee.
There are four people on the committee who generate a direct equity buy list for the Worcester office. This complements the firm’s centralised fund research. Sumner has certainly come a long way since he joined the firm eight years ago.
Conversation finds its way to driverless cars and I wonder what Sumner thinks about technology stocks being somewhat of a buzz word at the moment.
‘I do like the technology sector, but feel there are a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon at the moment,’ he tells me.
‘The market is frustrating at the moment, it needs a good shake up.’
Glass half empty: ‘The negative impact of technology changes on people’s lives can happen on a mass scale quite quickly. For example – there can be huge job losses in a short period of time.’
Glass half full: ‘I’m holding out for an elongated British summer and a late heatwave!’