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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
In what is a not unfamiliar career path for wealth managers, he moved to Prudential after four years, where he rose to become a national account manager for key accountancy firms and IFAs, generating up to £200 million in premiums a year.
‘That was a lot of money in the early 1990s, but I always felt that I wanted to get closer to the clients rather than do intermediary sales,’ he says. ‘I was given the opportunity to join Kleinwort Benson in Birmingham and it was my first chance to advise wealthy clients.
‘At that point, I had to develop relationships with advisers, tax experts, lawyers and accountants. At the time my role was very national, I covered Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Scotland and I picked up a lot of contacts, but I felt my manor was the West Midlands and I wanted to concentrate on running money locally.’
He soon got this opportunity after being approached by Singer & Friedlander to develop its Birmingham office. The move proved short-lived, though, as King and the other four members of the group’s five-strong investment team moved over to Laing & Cruickshank.
Within six months, the firm was bought by Swiss giant UBS.
‘I founded UBS’s Midlands office alongside a couple of ex-Singer & Friedlander colleagues in 2003 and we built it into one of the best wealth managers in the Midlands, and one of the most profitable in the UK,’ King said. ‘It is difficult to do that in the regions, a lot of private banks have tried and failed.’
He spent eight years at the firm in which time he built up a book of about 70 ultra-high net worth clients, receiving a steady stream through professional and personal referrals.
All seemed fine until the financial crisis made King question what he was doing and ultimately realise that he had fallen out of love with the big bank model.
‘After the financial crisis, I become a little disillusioned with the banking model and it became increasingly difficult, hand on heart, to say we offered the best independent solution to clients,’ he said.