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Wealth Manager: Signia's Birmingham head on breaking the UK's second city
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by James Phillipps on Apr 05, 2012 at 00:01
Launching a regional strategy may like sound a no-brainer, but many private banks and wealth managers have tried and failed in recent years.
The appeal of casting the net wider and the reality of being able to attract new clients have been poles apart for a whole range of financial institutions. One failing of a number of firms is to simply parachute in a team from London and arrogantly assume that affluent individuals will flock to their shiny new premises.
Signia Wealth is the latest firm to branch out of London, opening a Birmingham office in January, but it has sought to minimise the risks and maximise the opportunities by hiring in Martin King, a veteran of the local wealth management scene, and indeed a local man, to lead the operation.
King joined Signia from UBS Wealth Management, where he had launched and built up its West Midlands presence into one of the group’s premier private banking hubs.
He puts much of his success down to his history in the area and having built a network of relationships at the very heart of the local business community over the years.
‘I’ve taken the time to get to know the key entrepreneurs in the Midlands and their advisers and be part of their trusted network,’ he says. ‘I think it has also helped that I am actually a Birmingham guy.
‘The wealth management sector is almost self-policing here because people know who the best advisers are.
‘In the Midlands, people are pretty accepting, but if you don’t do a good job you will get found out pretty quickly.’
It was the people side of the business that originally led King to move into financial services. After graduating in economics, he joined a small owner-managed business as an accountant trainee. And although he says it gave him a good grounding in how a small sub-£15 million business works, it soon became clear that a life staring at ledgers wasn’t for him.
Encouraged by his brother to follow him into financial services, King took a job as an intermediary at NPI and fondly recalls his Fiesta Popular company car, quite something for a 21 year old back in the day.