It has been a busy 18 months for Quilter Cheviot. Five months after the firm was sold to Old Mutual in February 2015, its executive team was restructured. In August that year its chief executive officer, Martin Baines, became head of Old Mutual Wealth’s investment division, leaving the leadership of the firm to 23-year Quilter Cheviot veteran David Loudon, who was most recently head of the firm’s regional business.
Despite covering a volatile six months that included the UK’s referendum on its membership of the European Union, Old Mutual’s half-year earnings to the end of July 2016 show Quilter Cheviot had not only expanded its geographic footprint with an office in Dubai but had also grown assets under management by 7%, to £19bn.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed the past year,” says Loudon. “In my previous role, I was very focused on the regions and so part of what I have been enjoying is getting to know the wider team in London, working with them and, on occasion, helping them in client situations.”
Loudon’s collaborative approach underpins his wider philosophy that wealth management is a people business, and in order to properly service higher net-worth clients, a strong team approach is essential.
“A typical team will consist of a senior investment manager, a qualified investment manager, a trainee investment manager and an administrator. Each member of the team is client-facing and is expected to know the clients very well.
“The investment managers are also client relationship managers and, in that dual role, are also out winning business,” Loudon says, adding that each team manages a couple of £100m portfolios with a typical office holding around four or five teams.
The firm has just fewer than 600 employees in total and 160 qualified investment professionals, half of who are based in London. In order to get all of these people pulling in the same direction, Loudon says, it is important to have a vision.
“Our goal is to deliver both the very best proposition and the highest level of service we can,” he says. “Those two goals enable the firm to build on its reputation. This business is all about confidence. We need to ensure we are sending the right messages to our clients.”
On the investment side, confidence is built by ensuring there is consistency to the approach and outcomes generated by its investment teams.
According to Loudon, this is done by ensuring each team feeds from a central resource, both in terms of research and control functions. “We have a very well established research team that works hard to come up with ideas and recommendations for the investment managers to apply, depending on their clients’ requirements.”
“We have a buy list and the idea is to produce a framework that investment managers can use. If you looked at a client portfolio in any of our offices, you would recognise it as a Quilter Cheviot portfolio, but no two will be the same because each client is different,” Loudon says.
The firm’s central view is complemented by six committees made up both of members of the research team and various investment managers. These committees cover asset allocation, chaired by Duncan Gwyther, investment funds (Ben Mountain), alternatives (James Beck) and finally three stock selection committees, UK, US and international, all chaired by Alan McIntosh.
These committees mean that while the ultimate decision lies with the research team, it has the buy-in of the rest of the team.