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Wealth Manager: FF&P's head of asset management explains why the company is in a hurry
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by David Campbell on Jul 12, 2012 at 00:01
For a brand that has nearly 140 years of investment heritage behind it, Fleming Family & Partners (FF&P) gives every impression of being an organisation in a hurry.
While the current iteration is little more than 10 years old – formed to help manage the $7.7 billion the family received for the sale of its historic merchant bank Robert Fleming & Company to JP Morgan in 2000 – the company has been writing cheques at a dramatic pace since 2010, as it overhauled its investment process and client-facing proposition to fuel expansion.
That investment in human capital led to it signing up Daniel Briggs (formerly of Sarasin where he was AA-rated by Citywire); buying a large stake in Asquith & Partners, the investment advisory business run by former Wealth Manager coverstar Richard Bertin; and poaching a clutch of relationship managers from blue chip rivals.
It has also tempted Ian Marsh from his previous home at Credit Suisse, where after a variety of equity sell-side and management roles in the bank over 22 years he had risen to become chief executive of its UK private banking division.
While the title on his business card is group head of asset management, the energy, zeal and determination he brings to evangelising the Fleming name must have the company's head of marketing fearing for their job security.
While a little relentlessly on-message, he certainly brings a lot of enthusiasm to the table, peppering his descriptions of the company with superlatives such as ‘fantastic’, ‘exceptional’ and ‘excellent’.
‘There is a fabulous opportunity to grow from this point,’ Marsh says. ‘There is a definite desire from the family to market the story. We have a very distinguished name, we are independent, and have an institutional-style investment proposition.
‘Trust in the big banks is at a low and that makes it a very interesting time for companies able to position themselves as trusted advisers, and which are aligned alongside their clients’ best interests. FF&P clients rank equally with the [Fleming] family and we are not burdened by the liabilities of the banking sector.’
The catalyst for the expansionary drive was the collapse of 2008 when, the ‘classic endowment style’ model that had previously shaped the company’s investment strategy broke down in the face of a global liquidity trap. Briggs – who joined as chief investment officer in 2010 – redrew the process more along the lines of modern portfolio theory, consolidating and centralising decision-making and putting a greater premium on income.
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