Boulestin is a stylish French restaurant in historic St James’s, named after famous culinary innovator X Marcel Boulestin, who was described in The New Yorker in 1932 as a ‘Doctor of the Philosophy of the table, Culinary Ambassador to the English, intelligent gentleman of France, man of the world, essayist of vigor and charm…’
We will have to take their word for that, writes Steve Plowman. What I can be sure of, is that I am joined there by an intelligent duo of vigour and charm, Susie Hillier and Richard Bertin of Stonehage Fleming Wealth Planning.
Bertin begins by suggesting that Hillier start our lunch by talking a little about her background, and after a little verbal tennis, Hillier obliges. ‘I initially started out in an insurance group, which was incredibly useful as I learned all of the things that I did not want to do.
‘It became clear that from a regulatory point of view, it was becoming very hard for an accountancy business to offer the same level of service as an investment planning business. Having previously worked at Deloitte, I needed a brand that my client base could trust. Luckily for me, Richard had done the hard work in setting the business up.’
Hillier continues: ‘We then spent the next three years building the Fleming brand. From a Stonehage Fleming, multi-family office point of view, we joined that party in the summer.’
Though happy for Hillier to talk me through the pair’s journey into Stonehage Fleming as it is today, Bertin is quick to interject with a suggestion (actually, more of an insistence) that my next question should be to ask what differentiates Stonehage Fleming. So what differentiates the group?
Bertin retorts with another question: ‘Can you think of another organisation in London that has the same breadth and expertise as Stonehage Fleming?’
As I scramble for an answer, he saves me the trouble. ‘We are part of a global fiduciary wealth management business. That in itself differentiates us. If you are a high net worth or ultra-high net worth individual, you know that you can come to us and get independent planning advice, you know there are a team of private client lawyers, a UK trust company and a private equity business and a corporate advisory team all under one roof.’
As our food arrives, the conversation moves on to their clients and both Hillier and Bertin are keen to stress that at Stonehage Fleming, they take an entirely holistic view to servicing their needs.
Hillier begins: ‘A lot of my clients are people in their 50s and 60s. They are people who have built their wealth and they want to ensure that it is passed on to their families. That is when intergenerational planning becomes important. I work with them on how they can support their children without spoiling them and protecting the wealth that they have built.’
Nodding his head, I suspect due to a mixture of agreement and enjoyment of his main course, Bertin concurs. ‘We don’t run money for all of our clients, and sometimes clients simply want to use us as a sounding board.’
He continues: ‘For the majority of our clients they don’t come to us to talk about their investments, they come to talk about what’s important to them and the business was created to work on that basis. When you understand what is really important to your client, you can build a tailored plan around that.’
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