Editor’s corner – What were wealth managers up to in May 2020?

Katie Royals, 14/01/2022

While we have been busy reporting on multiple chief executive changes this week, the national press has been largely focused on a certain party that took place on 20 May 2020 – during the first Covid-19 lockdown. This has led to a social media trend where people post what they were doing on this date. So, I started thinking, what was the wealth management sector doing on this day?

After some very unscientific research – largely comprising a look back at what was published on thewealthnet – it appears that while everything has seemingly changed in the past 20 months, an awful lot has remained the same. The research also revealed no evidence of bring your own booze parties taking place in office gardens, I am sure you are all relieved to hear. 

One article, entitled ‘Guiding clients through Covid-19 and beyond’, speaks about the importance of communicating with clients and encouraging the next generation to be involved in conversations about family wealth. These topics remain pertinent today and are still popular talking points.

Perhaps what would surprise us, if we were to travel back in time, is that we would still very much be in the midst of Covid-19 and we would have made it over half way through the Greek alphabet with variants.

Another article published reported that Tilney had recruited a former Manchester United footballer. Simon Andrews joined the firm as business development director of sport and media.

While a relatively niche hire, this also reflects a growing trend within private wealth. Even during the pandemic, wealth creation has boomed. Rather than focusing on more traditional wealth clients, firms are increasingly looking to attract entrepreneurs.

Some are extending this to sport and reality stars, many of whom make eye watering sums of money at a very young age, but their earning potential is limited to a relatively short period of time. This poses an interesting challenge for wealth managers looking to service these clients.

Meanwhile on 20/05/20, Ian Orton touched on another key trend within the industry. He took a look at the wealth managers that featured in The Sunday Times’ Giving List. Both Jonathan Ruffer and John Stone featured in the top 10 this year.

Most conversations within the sector do not focus on the philanthropic efforts of wealth managers themselves. But, as clients begin to give more thoughtful consideration to the purpose of wealth, firms’ philanthropic offerings are growing in importance.

In November last year, Juliet Agnew, head of philanthropy at Barclays Private Bank, spoke to thewealthnet about the increase in interest from ultra high net worth clients.

Speaking of the “fascinating, troubling, and difficult couple of years”, she highlighted that Covid-19 actually served to increase UHNW giving and expressed her hopes that this trend would continue beyond the crisis, showing philanthropy is still very relevant to the sector.

Perhaps then, while so much has changed since the outbreak of Covid-19, it is apt to say a lot has remained the same in the private wealth industry.