Lisa Henderson, associate director in investment management at Smith & Williamson, talks to Steve Plowman about wealth management in the South East.
What is the state of wealth management in the South East?
The South East covers a large area, but what I can say for certain is that in Surrey and Hampshire the wealth management sector is extremely healthy and we are seeing robust growth.
Clients are increasingly aware that they do not need to have their assets managed by a fund manager in London in order to receive a high level of service and quality of wealth management. Indeed, in a firm such as ours, we benefit from access to all the same information and fund management houses as our colleagues based in the City.
In addition, even clients used to commuting to London all of their working lives have told us that they find using a local investment manager to be more convenient, especially when they have retired and do not wish to travel to London too often. Guildford is extremely accessible and our office is directly opposite the train station.
Is there a lot of wealth creation in the South East and if so, how do you tap into it?
Absolutely. The Guildford office of Smith & Williamson is based in the commuter belt for many people who work in London, but equally there are many large international firms who have offices nearby.
This, in turn, has led to a number of fund management firms having a local presence, along with several law and accountancy firms and IFAs, who are all good sources of business for us.
Smith & Williamson provides a range of financial services, for both individuals and businesses alike, and quite often clients will use the services provided by more than one department, such as financial planning or tax advice so we get a healthy flow of referrals from other departments.
We also see a steady flow of referrals from existing clients, who mention us to their friends and families, which is always flattering.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the industry at the moment?
Regulatory change, especially the amount of time and cost spent on ensuring that we are meeting the latest requirements.Next up is Mifid II, legislation which is expected to take effect in January 2018, and although the practicalities are still being finalised, the core focus remains for us to keep up with any regulatory change while maintaining the same high level of bespoke service to our clients.