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Wealth Manager: S&W's Chris Kenny explains how segmentation is driving growth
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by Danielle Levy on Jul 25, 2013 at 00:01
In the current job market, the prospect of working for the same company for over 16 years might send some people running.
But Smith & Williamson Investment Management’s (S&W) Chris Kenny – now in his sixteenth year at the company – has not lost any of the energy you might expect to find in a recent recruit. He gives every impression he is invigorated and enthused about the future of the business.
Having joined in 1997 on the same day that Tony Blair came to power, Kenny jokes that at least he can claim to have outlasted the former prime minister. Perhaps it is the scale of growth that the firm has experienced over the past 16 years that has kept him so focused.
He recalls at the time the team was 30-strong and based in the West End. It has since grown into a business of 147 investment managers across regional hubs in the UK and Ireland, overseeing some £14.4 billion in assets.
Private client investment was a path Kenny was initially uninterested in, despite the fact that his father Kevin Kenny had made a name for himself in the sector, running both Guinness Mahon and Tyndall.
After training as an accountant and moving into tax advisory, Kenny junior realised how much he enjoyed working with private clients, however. He followed in his father’s footsteps by entering the world of discretionary funds, joining Smith & Williamson as a trainee.
‘It is fascinating that we are more or less in the same industry. My father did not encourage me to go into this industry, but the private client world has changed a lot since he was a stockbroker pre-Big Bang when he moved over to the UK. It was a very different industry,’ he explains.
Bringing things full circle, Kenny now manages his father’s money. At S&W he heads the company’s Dublin office and is now a board member with responsibility for business development and capitalising on growth opportunities.
‘There is still is a significant opportunity [for growth]. We are not creating many millionaires in the UK any more so our traditional customer base is changing over time.
‘We are finding the breadth of service that we can offer from the accountancy practice, private bank, fund administration and financial planning, having those in one place is very appealing for people. We are certainly ending up looking after larger and larger clients, but what we have really discovered is the core service we offer can be expressed in different ways for different markets,’ he says.
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