Signia Wealth’s management team has kept a low profile since rejoining the firm in early 2015; an understandable decision in the wake of the ex-chief executive officer Nathalie Dauriac-Stoebe’s acrimonious departure and a good explanation for the caution with which the team agreed to be interviewed.
That caution is not evident in person, however. Entering the firm’s Mayfair office, I am greeted by all four members of the team: managing director Carnegie Smyth, head of wealth management Greg Malone, chief investment officer Etienne de Merlis and head of hedge fund investment Michael Rosenthal.
All have a clear message: from the outside Signia may look unchanged but its engine is decidedly different, and the way in which money is managed and the focus of the firm has undergone fundamental change.
Five years ago, according to Smyth, the firm was a multi-family office offering investment among a concierge-style range of services. Today, the firm is happy to bring in external legal or tax experts to provide advice, leaving the team to focus on what it does best.
He says: “We are now focused on managing money, headed by Rosenthal and De Merlis. When we sat down 18 months ago, we looked at what we were good at and what we wanted to be known for.
“In five years’ time, I want people to know us for what Etienne and Michael deliver on the investment front and what the rest of the team deliver in terms of client service.”
Malone says the increasing regulatory burden facing the industry means the firm’s resources have been deliberately left “heavy” in certain areas, particularly infrastructure. “The firm is heavy on risk. We have invested in terms of systems and people across our compliance operations, finance and legal. We are a business that is well resourced, especially for our size,” he says.
Another area of focus, adds Malone, is technology, which has already changed the industry significantly. “Everything we have been doing in the past 18 months has been with a view to improving outcomes for the client. There is no doubt that technology can help do that, both in terms of improving our systems but also externally, to benefit the client experience.”
By way of example, Malone says the firm has set up a platform that allows clients to move cash between accounts and find the best interest rates available.