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Regional footprint: the view from the Midlands

In the latest instalment of our regional spotlight, we turn our attention to the Midlands. We catch up with six wealth managers and find out about their past growth, present focus and future plans.

Toby Carpenter, investment director, Psigma, Birmingham

Psigma has had a presence in Birmingham for just over four years and Toby Carpenter has spearheaded operations since the launch.

The Birmingham branch is one of two regional Psigma offices, alongside Edinburgh.

‘Our parent company, Punter Southall, has offices across the country and has one in Birmingham,’ he said. ‘It was a natural fit for wealth management to be added here as there was a good client presence.’

When it comes to clients, the team work with three main groups: professionals, business owners and retirees from the local area.

‘My clients are wider Midlands based because a lot of our business is intermediary led, and more often than not their clients are from the region,’ Carpenter said.

Over the next 18 months the team will be building on the success of the last four years and aims to increase both its assets under management and headcount. The state of wealth management in Birmingham and the Midlands looks set to help them do that.

‘Wealth management in the region is very healthy. There has been a lot of consolidation recently, but the pension freedoms have been a massive boost to all,’ he added.

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Toby Carpenter, investment director, Psigma, Birmingham

Psigma has had a presence in Birmingham for just over four years and Toby Carpenter has spearheaded operations since the launch.

The Birmingham branch is one of two regional Psigma offices, alongside Edinburgh.

‘Our parent company, Punter Southall, has offices across the country and has one in Birmingham,’ he said. ‘It was a natural fit for wealth management to be added here as there was a good client presence.’

When it comes to clients, the team work with three main groups: professionals, business owners and retirees from the local area.

‘My clients are wider Midlands based because a lot of our business is intermediary led, and more often than not their clients are from the region,’ Carpenter said.

Over the next 18 months the team will be building on the success of the last four years and aims to increase both its assets under management and headcount. The state of wealth management in Birmingham and the Midlands looks set to help them do that.

‘Wealth management in the region is very healthy. There has been a lot of consolidation recently, but the pension freedoms have been a massive boost to all,’ he added.

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Phillip Wood, head of Midlands region, UBS Wealth Management, Birmingham

UBS opened its Midlands office in 2003, but regional head Phillip Wood says it has really taken off in the last nine years. In 2008, the branch housed an eight-strong team, which has now almost doubled to 15, including the addition of Andy Jackson from Coutts earlier this month.

Meanwhile, assets under management have increased 10-fold (UBS does not disclose office assets), he said.

‘Following the addition of Andy Jackson as a client adviser and three assistants in June, we’re continuing to actively recruit more client advisers in both the east and west Midlands. Our ongoing expansion will help us reach more clients across the region and to continue to provide the high levels of service our clients have come to expect from UBS,’ Wood said.

Although the Midlands has a diverse range of wealth managers, according to Wood, the main challenge for the global firm is finding the right talent.

He added: ‘In terms of the regional landscape, the east Midlands is historically under-served by the wealth management industry, particularly global players, despite the abundance of business activity across the region.

‘We’re overcoming this by expanding our offering, as demonstrated by hiring Jackson to cover the East Midlands. We are seeking to bolster our team further in the coming months.’

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David Jupp, head of office, Quilter Cheviot, Birmingham

Quilter Cheviot opened its office in Birmingham in 1994 and now have a team of 41.

It is clear that David Jupp, recently appointed head of office, is delighted to have such a presence in the city and the ability to engage with other quality professional service providers.

He said: ‘There are massive changes going on in Birmingham right here, right now. We have fantastic transport links, great cultural and sporting activities and a lot of businesses want to operate here.’

Jupp said there is a huge amount of raw talent in the region, a very captive audience and as a team, they strive to make sure everything they do is built on quality.

He added: ‘At Quilter Cheviot, we attract people by nurturing them, giving them responsibility and allowing them to build strong foundations with us. We need to invest in talent today to grow tomorrow’s business.

‘We continue to build our name and brand awareness in and around the city with events like BBC Countryfile, where we are the major sponsor, along with the recent sponsorship of the Chateau Impney Hill Climb.

‘We are working with existing professional contacts as we look to develop our thinking around pension freedom and business succession planning.’

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Kypros Charalambous, head of office, Tacit Investment Management, Birmingham

Tacit Investment Management is looking to further build its presence in Birmingham, by adding to its research team. The boutique wealth firm has just recruited former Saunderson House head of discretionary management services Leigh Stephens to build and lead its relationships with professional connections and intermediaries.

Kypros Charalambous (pictured left), Tacit’s head of Birmingham, said Stephens’ hire and the additional research analyst will take the branch’s headcount up from four to six.

‘We are continuing to build our core private client offering and are increasingly working with medium to large intermediaries and providing additional services, such as consultancy,’ he said.

Tacit, which was originally founded in 2010 by former Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management colleagues, Raj Basra, Roy Swain and Peter Bickley, opened its Midlands office in 2013. This was a year after Charalambous, another Deutsche alumni, joined the company.

It runs four investment strategies and has grown to £450 million of assets under management.

Charalambous said that offering Tacit’s investment services on platforms is another route to growth for the firm, with the strategies available through Fusion Wealth. He added that launching unitised versions of these as a managed portfolio service (MPS) is an option, but there are no imminent plans.

‘It’s great that people want to access our investment performance, but we don’t just want to gather assets, possibly at the wrong price, and we run our investment process in a particular way and need to ensure people understand that.’

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Mike Divers, senior investment director, Brooks Macdonald, Leamington Spa

As Brooks Macdonald felt it was missing a presence in the Midlands, the company asked Mike Divers, at the time working out of London, if he wanted to head a new branch there.

He joined Brooks Macdonald in 2009 and spent all of his professional life in London, but the opportunity was too good to pass up. The Leamington Spa branch came to be in 2013, and has grown to have nine client-facing staff.

‘As a business, we undertook due diligence on where we wanted to be and we decided Leamington Spa was the most appropriate location for a number of reasons,’ Divers explained.

‘[It was because of the] communication links, the heart of the Midlands and an extremely wealthy area.’

The branch has won Citywire’s Regional Stars award for the Midlands three times, so what the staff are doing is paying off. ‘We have a strong brand as a business, so being able to grow our business in the Midlands hasn’t been too difficult. ‘Particular challenges for us are that it’s a huge area and the business is going extremely strongly. To get around the whole area now we have two business development managers, one in the west and one in the east.’

The staff numbers are set to increase, with Divers pointing out that he will ‘definitely’ be hiring over the next 12-18 months.

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Oliver Mustin, investment manager, Rowan Dartington, Solihull

Rowan Dartington has been on a regional office opening spree since being acquired by St James’s Place in 2015 and now has three Midlands bases.

It established its Birmingham office that same year with Solihull and Nottingham branches added in January 2017, as the company looks to grow into a national wealth management player.

Oliver Mustin, a Solihull-based investment manager at Rowan Dartington, said: ‘Since the acquisition by St James’s Place, Rowan Dartington has increased its geographical footprint throughout the UK, and transformed itself from a regional player focused on the south of the country to a national wealth manager.’

In Solihull, the firm has a team of four, which is made up of three investment managers and one investment development manager.

‘Over the next 12-18 months, our plans are to continue to expand our Midlands presence and to further the roll out our discretionary fund management and stockbroking proposition.’

The firm highlights the wealth of development going on in the area, with transport links being improved and the likes of HSBC moving staff out of London to be housed in the Midlands.

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