Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The New Banks That Cost You [Pounds Sterling]25m to Join; (1) Empire Building: Above, Justin Portman and His Wife Natalia Vodianova. above Right, Sir Mick Jagger, Pictured with L'Wren Scott, Appreciates the Benefits of Bespoke Banking (2) Money Talks: Lady Bamford

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The New Banks That Cost You [Pounds Sterling]25m to Join; (1) Empire Building: Above, Justin Portman and His Wife Natalia Vodianova. above Right, Sir Mick Jagger, Pictured with L'Wren Scott, Appreciates the Benefits of Bespoke Banking (2) Money Talks: Lady Bamford

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN ARLIDGE

THE old adage of the rich always getting richer has never rung more trueas a glance at the annual wealth tables shows. Each year, the families at thevery top seem to add to their fortunes with effortless ease.

Talk of an economic slowdown may be worrying the rest of us but it is unlikelyto ruffle the very wealthy. Such is their enormous influence that a booming newindustry has sprung up to meet their particular financial requirements.

Once, the landed aristocracy and gentry left the management of their money tosenior figures at discreet accountants, trusted banks and lawyers. Now theindependent "family office" is all the ragethe Wall Street Journal recently devoted a major feature to the way in whichthe richest US families looked to teams of specialist experts to look aftertheir cash and make it grow. Some of these advisers were becoming hugelywealthy in their own right, such was the demand for their services.

Where America leads, the UK is not far behind. Sure enough, popping up inLondonparticularly in the private client financial districts of Mayfair and StJames'sare family offices. For the rich, having a specialist firm look after youraffairs is a must-have item. Only this week Barclays Wealth, Britain's largestprivate banker, announced it is to create 800 new jobs globally.

William Cash, editor of Spears Wealth Management Survey, which chroniclesLondon's burgeoning wealth management sector, says: "Having a privateinvestment office is suddenly as important as having the right yacht.

"At parties, you hear people competitively name-dropping whether they are withthis private office or that." From a standing start a few years ago, modernfamily officesor private investment offices, as they are technically termednow handle more than [pounds sterling]40 billion for the wealthiest new and old money familiesin the capital.

William Drake, one of the first to set up Lord North Street, a privateinvestment office, says: "The sector is growing like crazy. When we startedin a kitchen five years agowe had no clients and there were few private firms around.

Now we have almost 20 clients and several billions under management and thereare a variety of private investment offices." Lord North Street, run by Drakeand his co-founder, ex-JP Morgan banker Adam Wethered, is on "Boutique BankBoulevard", as St James's has become known.

Around the corner in the Bishop of Ely's former palace in Berkeley Street isFleming Family and Partners, run by the Fleming banking family.

Nearby are Sand Aire, run by Alexander Scott, who led the sale of ProvincialInsurance and Exeter Bank in 1994, Partners Capital, run by Stan Miranda,former partner at Bain and Co, Stanhope Capital, which has assets exceeding [pounds sterling]2billion, and AlphaOne Partners, run by former Goldman Sachs wealth managerNicholas Sarkis. Other local pukka outfits include Kedge, Unigestion andArundel Iveagh.

Their clients include aristocrats such as the Guinness banking and brewingbillionaires, property tycoons, old and new, notably the Portman family ofPortman Square fame and developer Sir John Beckwith, and the odd international"Mr Fix It", the best-known of whom is Syrian-born billionaire Wafic Said.

There are modern business tycoons. Tom Singh, founder of high-street fashionchain New Look, uses a Mayfair private office, as do Sports Division founderand Scotland's richest man, Sir Tom Hunter, and JCB's deep digger, Sir AnthonyBamford. Public entertainers Sir Mick Jagger and Phil Redmond, creator of thesoap opera, Brookside, enjoy the discretion that private banks offer.

Among the wealthy foreigners banking on London are Sweden's Hans Rausing,founder of Tetra Pak, Lakshmi Mittal, the wealthiest man in Britain and boss ofthe Indian-based Mittal Arcelor steel giant, and Ernesto Bertarelli,Switzerland's richest man, and his English wife, Kirsty. …

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