Travelling 19 stops to the end of the Central Line was a first for me, but emerging from London’s tunnels into the green countryside that surrounds Epping was a refreshing surprise, writes Suzie Bliss.
Within this commuter belt of Essex lies the Theydon Oak pub, which is where I met Andrew Powell (pictured left) and Billy Newton (right) of Walker Crips. The investment managers set up the firm’s Epping branch in September last year. The office currently has a team of four and oversees £250 million of assets under management and approximately 150 client relationships.
As we peruse a menu that is the epitome of ‘pub grub’, they explain the reasoning behind setting up shop in Epping.
‘It was a natural decision to open an office here in Epping. Not only because we are based in the area but because there was a gap for a good DFM North East of London and into Essex. There aren’t really any other competitor wealth management offices near us,’ Newton said.
Given our proximity to London, I questioned that surely clients would head into the City for wealth management services?
Powell, who is an Essex man born and bred, dispelled my assumptions. ‘Being so close to London, you’d think clients would just go there for their investment needs, but there is a strong local community in this area. People from Essex like to stay in Essex!
‘We want to be right in the middle of our client base and have an office where clients can call in, but also a base from where we can get out to visit our clients easily,’ he said.
Their client base extends through Essex and Hertfordshire, and the average account size is £500,000. And as well as clients coming into the office, they spend two to three days a week visiting clients, which they enjoy.
‘It is the best bit about the job,’ Powell said. ‘We meet some really amazing and interesting people. They’ve worked hard to build up their wealth and hearing their stories is fascinating.’
It was time to order: chicken dish of the day, fish pie and scampi and chips. I was happy to see the humble spud so well honoured in these British dishes.
The current team of four, which includes Steve Moss and Mark Entwhistle, all worked together at Barclays before joining Walker Crips. Powell and Newton made the move in 2014 and spent the first two years in the London office. They have in fact spent most of their careers working together, including stints at the stockbrokers Beaufort Securities and SVS Securities.
‘We also live round the corner from each other, but we’re not sick of each other yet!’ Powell joked.
The financial crisis of 2008 hit fairly early on in their careers and as our food arrived, they told me how it affected them.
‘It helps prepare you for what the market can throw at you,’ Newton said.
‘It wasn’t unusual to see people at that time with a tear in their eye walking down the street or on the train having gone into work as normal that morning to then lose their job so suddenly,’ Powell said.
Newton recalled how it felt: ‘I distinctly remember the atmosphere on the trains; it was very eerie. But perhaps in the typical British way, it seemed like there was a definite sense of “we are all in this together and we will pull through”.’
Parking those memories, the pair are pleased the setting up of the Epping office went so smoothly.
‘The biggest highlight so far has been getting the first prospective client through the door and explaining the business to them. It’s great to be able to provide a service where clients don’t need to travel to London for reliable investment management advice,’ Newton said.
Q: Pu-erh and Oolong are types of what?
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