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Wealth Adviser Profile: Chris Macdonald

by James Phillipps on May 26, 2009 at 00:01

Wealth Adviser Profile: Chris Macdonald

Newcastle United may be scrapping for survival in the top flight, but the Brooks Macdonald Group’s place in the premier league is not under question.

Chris Macdonald, the firm’s Newcastle-supporting chief executive, has watched his football team and business move in opposite directions since the summer, with the firm going from strength to strength while the Toon battle against the drop.

Newcastle could certainly learn something about the importance of having stable, long-term management from Macdonald, who has headed the business since
he co-founded it in 1991.

The proof of the pudding is certainly in the eating, particularly against such a difficult economic backdrop. Brooks Macdonald grew its assets under management from £1.18 billion to £1.21 billion in the second half of last year, while pre-tax profits soared by 46% to £1.26 million, which is a great result in the current climate. It also opened its fourth office, in Tunbridge Wells, and has upped its headcount, taking on five new trainee fund managers in January.

Clearly proud of his firm’s performance he sums it up by saying, ‘The market has changed but we haven’t.’

The company is now in its 18th year, having been founded in 1991 with two divisions, asset management and financial consulting, its advisory arm.

After a decade spent in the City, Macdonald believed there was a gap in the marketplace for a fee-based private client business that put as much emphasis on client service as it did on performance.

‘We felt that the opportunity was twofold: to launch an investment management business that was completely transparent and that charged fees for everything we did,’ he says.

‘At the time some people said fees wouldn’t work but for us it was one of the key drivers of the business and essential to offering a high quality service-led investment management company. Those beliefs are still firmly held by us and if anything have hardened over the years.

‘Secondly, we wanted to be a pure private client manager. We felt a lot of institutions flitted between being an institutional asset management firm and a private client manager, but we believe they are like oil and vinegar, to the extent that we have turned down any institutional mandates.’

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