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Wealth Manager Profile: Robert Taylor and Natalie Merrens

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by James Phillipps on Apr 09, 2010 at 00:01

Kleinwort Benson may be one of the elder statesmen of City institutions with roots dating back over 150 years, but it certainly does not have the sleepy image that many private banks seem to project.

Indeed, the firm has been in the business pages more often than it would no doubt have liked this year, after two changes of owner in less than 12 months.

Commerzbank came along after it rescued its rival Dresdner Bank before selling the business on to the Belgian-based holding company RHJ International last October.

Chief executive Robert Taylor admits that the high stakes pass-the-parcel perturbed some of his clients, but he insists the business is now in better shape than ever.

It is easy to imagine Taylor reassuring clients. He is a skilled orator used to moving in high circles, but one who has retained the common touch. No doubt a lot of his communication skills were learnt in his first job as a legislative correspondent for the then US Democrat congressman Les AuCoin.

After a stint as a financial journalist, which was followed by spells at Merrill Lynch, SG Hambros Bank & Trust and Coutts, he joined Kleinwort Benson in 2004.

Natalie Merrens, head of product advisory, is a slightly newer addition to the team, having joined three and a half years ago.

Unlike Taylor, her background was in the industry, where she started out as a foreign exchange trader. After time out for a masters degree, she took up a consultancy role with Ernst & Young’s high net worth team. She spent six years at the business, which was latterly moved into UBS, before joining Kleinwort Benson in 2006.

The experience served her well as one of her first tasks was to overhaul the group’s approach to risk profiling clients.

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