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Wealth Adviser Profile: Simon Lough
by James Phillipps on May 06, 2009 at 11:01
They say it is harder to lose a reputation than to gain one, but Heartwood Wealth Management has long since shaken off the ‘Tunbridge Wells based-’ prefix that used to irk chief executive Simon Lough.
Although there are far worse places to be associated with, the small town link does not do justice to the massive investment the firm has made in both people and processes at its London office.
Heartwood now sees 80% of its clients in its Covent Garden base, which is just a stone’s throw from the Royal Opera House, and has £1 billion in assets under management. It counts several FTSE 100 chief executives and finance directors among its affluent client base, along with a number of senior investment bankers.
The latter is in many ways no real surprise given the background of both Lough and his elder brother David, the business’s founder and current chairman.
‘David was an investment banker,’ Lough explains. ‘He had a decent income and besides working very long hours, he had five children and found that he was spending far too much time co-ordinating his lawyer, accountant and stockbroker, who all worked out of separate places. It was his early vision to bring as much of this together as possible and put in place the systems to make this much more efficient.’
David launched the business with Cripps Harries Hall, a well-respected firm of solicitors in Tunbridge Wells, in 1988. It had a natural stream of clients as it worked with many affluent executives who lived in the area. After many years in the City, the elder Lough had a contact book that most wealth advisers would give their right arm for.
Besides investment management, the business offered specialist tax planning services, which struck a chord with company directors and City workers, who had to efficiently manage their share options and bonus payouts.
It quickly became established and was profitable from year one. David Lough soon recognised the potential to expand the franchise. ‘By the mid-1990s, David was increasingly being contacted by people he knew who needed a wealth management service. He was at County NatWest at the time, but realised the potential demand was much greater than just Cripps Harries Hall clients,’ Simon says.
After long conversations with his brother, he joined the business in 1996 and opened its London office. Simon had been working in investment banking for 12 years, spending several of those in Japan at Kleinwort Benson and latterly Banca della Svizzera Italiana.
‘I had a fantastic time in Tokyo. I was dealing with the major financial institutions and helping them adapt to the new capital adequacy rules,’ he recalls. ‘They had all manner of problems and many were having a lot of issues with the overseas assets they had bought in the mid-1980s.
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