THEY have been looking after other people’s money for nigh on 200 years, but, arguably some of the biggest changes for their business has come in the last two decades.
Some of the biggest opportunities, too, as people increasingly realise that they can no longer rely on the state, or even company pensions, to support them in the manner to which they have been accustomed in old age.
“Twenty years ago, we were a traditional stockbroker; the business was transaction based, people earned a commission and a lot of our business was providing advice,” says Sheffield-born Jonathan Wragg, who runs the UK arm of Investec Wealth & Investment from its Napier Street offices.
“What has really changed in the industry – and we have been in the vanguard of that change – is a move from a stock broking business to, principally, an investment management business, where three quarters of the funds management is on a discretionary basis.
“The typical clients we are seeing are people with a pension and a portfolio of investments – and the ones retiring now are still enjoying the benefits of a large company pension scheme.”
Back in the days when Nicholson Barber – Investec’s Sheffield predecessor – was around, stocks and shares tended to be the province of the wealthy few, who felt they had some knowledge of the market and occasionally needed advice.
As time has moved on, the client bases has broadened with the help of sales of state assets like utility companies, company share schemes and the development of an investor who wouldn’t call themselves wealthy, but did have some money left over after paying into a pension pot, satisfying the tax man and meeting all their household expenses.
With less time on their hands and no great desire to get to grips with the Stock Market, they want specialists to handle their investments and are prepared to give them the discretion to buy and sell on their behalf.
“The core focus of the business is investment management of dedicated portfolios, individual trusts, charities and pension schemes,” says Jonathan Wragg, who joined the firm after it had ceased to be Nicholson Barber and had become BWD Rensburg.
“I think there is an inevitable increase in the scope of the business, particularly on the planning side.