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Wealth Manager Profile: Rupert Robinson
by Matthew Goodburn on Apr 15, 2009 at 00:01
The building itself is an impressive glass and steel affair, crammed with classical artefacts and other antiques no doubt appreciated by Robinson’s ultra high net worth clientele. The office contains 80 staff, and Robinson chairs its management committee, which he says drives the division’s overall strategy and ensures everyone adheres to their regulatory obligations.
The six-strong committee – which includes head of banking and treasury Alex Whitburn and Kate Leppard, head of UK private clients – meets once a week and is complemented by a further executive committee.
A second group consists of the management committee and those extra staff Robinson considers to be the bank’s ‘key business drivers’. This group includes structured product specialists, business development, treasury lending and foreign exchange experts. ‘It makes sure operations, risk and compliance are all linked into the business and is designed to ensure we have transparency,’ he says. Robinson is also part of another monthly meeting designed to discuss which areas of the business require further resources.
He is quick to dispel the notion that he calls meetings for meetings’ sake. ‘I am a great believer in having a meeting only if it is needed, otherwise, forget it,’ he says. ‘One of our key strengths is that we don’t need to have armies of people managing people; we are all adults.’
Robinson is keen to stress that less meetings means more time spent with clients. He says: ‘There is no Big Brother culture here; we like to give our people their independence. Getting the balance between teamwork and individual accountability right is absolutely key
However, he is equally keen to stress that culture must apply to the whole team. He says: ‘There is no point in doing it if only two or three people are taking responsibility.’
The UK business targets non-doms and UK residents but also has a lot of international clients. There are offshore teams in Gibraltar and Bermuda, as well as
an offshore processing business in Guernsey.
Using the full international muscle of the Schroder private banking franchise is an integral part of the strategy. He says: ‘The whole lot is driven by good communication between London, Switzerland and the Channel Islands to get the best person to service a particular client.’
Robinson was an early adopter of hedge funds
and multi-asset investing from his formative years at Rothschild, where he was charged with running money for Canadian mutual funds and created a portfolio
of five manager of manager funds. The funds were among the best-performing in the country and Robinson enjoyed his time devising and selling the products. He says: ‘It was an inspirational time for me and I had great fun on the road selling it.’
That business was sold in 2000 and Robinson wanted to take up the challenge of a job in a private client boutique. He says: ‘I had been at Rothschild man and boy and got to know the family. When you started to
get frustrated something else normally came along.’
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