Private bank Weatherbys gallops into Scots market

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High-end private bank Weatherbys, which began life catering to the racing elite, has appointed its first Scotland-based representative to service a growing client base north of the Border.

Duncan Gourlay joins the bank from Barclays Wealth, where he held the post of senior private banker. He will now provide similar services to Scottish clients of Weatherbys from his base in Edinburgh.

The seventh generation family-run company, headed by chief executive Roger Weatherby, has its roots in the horseracing industry and continues to provide administrative and banking services to the sport.

However, it has also been diversifying into mainstream financial services since gaining its licence in the early 1990s.

Those efforts accelerated in 2006 when it started a private banking operation initially built on its racing clients.

Today, the operation offers personal banking to customers with at least £3 million of net assets, or annual income of £300,000 or more.

Roger – who runs the businesses in conjunction with his brother, Johnny, the bank’s chairman – said he was excited about the potential for private banking in Scotland.

“We have a substantial number of Scottish clients and, with client referral leading to increasing enquiries, we expect this number to grow significantly,” Roger said.

“With our focus on traditional private banking, our personal service to clients is essential, and it is important for us therefore to service our clients at their homes in Scotland.

“Weatherbys lends out less than half of the amount of money that it takes in as deposits, giving it a reputation as a safe haven for funds. Its conservative approach has paid off in the aftermath of the financial crisis, with deposits up by 160 per cent since 2007 and currently standing at more than £370m.”

Now based at Wellingborough, in Northamptonshire, Weatherbys was established in 1770 and has throughout its history played the role of clearing house to British racing.

In addition to taking racing fees and distributing prize money, it is also responsible for the General Stud Book, the official record of every thoroughbred born in the UK and Ireland.

Under the rules of racing, any owner must either have an account with the British Horseracing Authority – which is administered by Weatherbys – or with Weatherbys directly. About 10,000 of the UK’s 16,000 owners have a Weatherbys racing account. Non-racing clients now number roughly 2,000.

The bank – which also has an investment arm with £90m of assets under third-party management – reported pre-tax profits of £3.1m last year, up 12 per cent on 2011.

Gourlay, pictured left, joins Weatherbys with an already-extensive CV in banking services. Having started out at the branch banking department of Bank of Scotland, he rose to become associate director of the private banking division.