60 second interview with James von Simson, Tilney

Date: 21 Jan 2019

Bumblebee Design

In our 60 second interview series, Citywealth speaks to James von Simson, investment director at Tilney Group about working with lottery fund winners, and helping clients to understand where the real risks are.

Tell me about your role.

I am an investment director at Tilney where I am responsible for looking after complex and multi-jurisdictional clients. For some clients I could be described as an overall wealth/business/family/strategy adviser, for others I am effectively a pure portfolio manager only focused on the assets I look after.


How has the private client industry changed?

Hugely – the traditional consigliere, the lawyers/accountants, have become more transactional focused while many wealth managers have become more focused on the whole of wealth rather than just the portfolio they manage, thus at the higher end replacing the lawyer/accountant as the main trusted adviser.


What lessons have you learnt?           

It’s not about knowing what will happen, it’s about preparing for what might happen.  


Tell us about interesting client instructions.               

Very large National Lottery winners are always fun (and, thus far, utterly delightful people) but the most interesting are the large families/trusts that have built up a disparate collection of assets in many different structures and jurisdictions over many years and generations that are (no longer) fit for purpose who come with a single request: Help.


What challenges do your clients face?

Clients, of all levels of sophistication, are always vulnerable to poor advice and poor decision making. This is the real cause of wealth destruction, not taxes or regulation. We spend a lot of time simplifying client affairs and helping them understand where their risks really are.


What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role?

Knowing that when I do my job right I can allow my clients not to worry.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Those who express opinions with complete surety are lying to you or to themselves.


What was the last book you’ve read?

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. A great thriller; full of corporate intrigue, grand delusions and cupidity that turns out to be non-fiction!  


Where was the last place you travelled to for work or pleasure?               

Iceland for a week over New Year. Not only do the Icelandic take NYE very seriously – in Reykjavik they estimate 200,000 people let off 500 tonnes of fireworks filling up the whole skyline for well over an hour – but the island is full of take-your-breath-away scenery.


How do you relax after a long day?