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Wealth Adviser Profile: Simon Lough

by James Phillipps on May 06, 2009 at 11:01

‘It was a very rewarding career in many ways, but I did not like some aspects of the City, where the client was not always put first. I found the ethical approach of a law firm very refreshing.’

However, the legal link had its downside, and in 2001 – faced with being regulated by both the Law Society and the Financial Services Authority – it started to move towards independence and incorporated as a separate company, Cripps Portfolio.

In 2005, it achieved full independence with a management buyout of the Cripps Harries Hall shareholders and rebranded as Heartwood Wealth Management.

The evolution of the company’s structure was matched by an ongoing development of its investment process. Whereas Lough’s time in Japan may be seen as a case of a different decade, a different banking crisis, and perhaps all too few lessons learnt, one thing that has characterised this firm’s development is its ability to learn from its experiences.

After the post-bubble bear market, Lough says it became readily apparent the traditional relative returns approach and reliance on equities, bonds and cash that had prevailed throughout the 1980s and 1990s was an outdated model.

He says clients’ needs had changed, and high net worth individuals did not want such levels of volatility, which resulted in the firm becoming an early adaptor of a much more diversified absolute return approach, with protecting and enhancing their wealth its mantra.

‘The combination of our sophisticated investment offering and our under-one-roof approach enabled
the business to grow rapidly while still retaining the personal touch of a small firm,’ he says.

The strength of its client relationships was proven during the business’s transition to first Cripps Portfolio and then Heartwood because on both occasions it had to write to each client and ask for their consent.

‘On three occasions I have felt very humbled by the support we have had from both our clients and our staff. In 2001, when we moved out of Cripps Harries Hall we budgeted for client losses, but they were miniscule, which is particularly pleasing when you consider the market conditions,’ he says.

‘With the management buyout in 2005 both the clients and staff were fantastic. We had about 60 people in the company and two thirds dipped into their pockets and bought shares. Thirdly, we have
just carried out a client satisfaction survey and 92% said they would definitely or probably recommend us to friends and family.’

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