A NEW front in the war for wealthy investors in Scotland has opened up as Thomas Miller Investment launches its “boutique” private client business in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square.
Harry Morgan, the former chief investment officer of Adam & Co, a division of part-nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland, has spearheaded the “softly-softly” business launch which is now going head-to-head with his former employer, as well as rivals such as Brewin Dolphin, Investec and Rathbones, to win mandates to manage client funds.
He also lured his former colleague, Andrew Herberts, an investment director at Adam, to join the new business which will target individuals with at least £250,000 to invest.
The boutique, a discretionary investment manager, is part of Isle of Man-based Thomas Miller Investment. The 127-year-old firm specialises in insurance clubs in the international transport and shipping sector, and also has an offshore wing.
The company opened an office in Edinburgh six years ago, set up by former Noble Grossart head of banking, Christopher Smith.
The office only offered a cash management service for clients such as the Church of Scotland until Morgan officially joined in April to launch the company’s onshore investment manager.
Morgan, who says he believes that Scotland is “over-brokered”, says the new business offers clients a twist on traditional wealth management.
He insists Thomas Miller Investment is not a wealth manager because it handles investments rather than attempting to sell further services such as pensions, tax or legal advice.
“We have had a very positive reaction. People feel underserved by the large banks that have wealth management arms and they are concerned about the dreaded product push. At the other end of the scale, there are lots of stockbrokers who are becoming wealth managers. If you have an in-house IFA you want to take as much of that client’s business, or ‘wallet-share’ as possible.”
He said the “big bang” in 1986 created the wealth management industry, but Morgan predicts this will go “into reverse”.
“You cannot be all things to all people. Some part of the organisation is going to start struggling.”
He said the firm would target wealthy investors as well as IFAs who were looking for a manager for their clients’ investments. The company also expects to win mandates to manage charity funds.
Morgan insists the firm, under its new chief investment officer Mike Balfour, does not have “aggressive” sales targets.
“This is going to be a UK business, based here in Edinburgh. If we can grow, which we will do, and if we can create some jobs that is just fantastic. But we are not going to be under the cosh.”
He added that since leaving Adam he said it was a relief not to be “constantly involved in discussions about downsizing”.
Privately owned Thomas Miller group had a turnover of £85 million last year and profits of 12.9m.
“We have never made a loss in 127 years. We are stable in a world of turmoil,” Morgan said.
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