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60 second interview with Warren Thompson, Coutts

24 February 2021

April French Furnell

In our latest 60 second interview, Warren Thompson, Head of Family Office and UHNW at Coutts tells Citywealth, “The biggest change in recent times is the change in focus and awareness among UHNWs on the purpose of their wealth. More than ever, the market is looking at what can their wealth achieve, how can it do more?”

Warren leads the bank’s Family Office team, following its recent redevelopment to enable the bank’s wealthiest clients to access a wider range of opportunities such as asset finance advice or HR support, as well as utilise BlackRock’s market-leading platforms.

In this interview, he shares an insight into his daily life and how he and his team are supporting clients in their pursuit of purpose and sustainability.

 

Tell us about your role.

I head up the UHNW proposition at Coutts and across the wider NatWest Group. Specifically I also lead the Coutts Family Office team. We’re a team of 32, responsible for 275 families and manage all their needs as a private bank and wealth manager.

 

How have you seen the UHNW market developing in recent times? How are you evolving as a business to meet changing client needs.

The biggest fundamental change in the UHNW market in recent times has been the change in focus and awareness in what is the purpose of their wealth. More than ever, the market is looking at what can their wealth achieve, how can it do more? Families are increasingly aware that their wealth brings an opportunity to make a difference for themselves and for others which is why are investing an enormous amount of time and people-power to support on this front. Another area of development in the UHNW market is around intergenerational planning. There will always be strong demand for secure financial foundations in place to support future generations but now more than ever there is a real demand for insight and education on what wealth can achieve.

 

Talk us through a typical day from the moment your alarm goes off…

Typical day at the moment sees my alarm go off at 6am and during lockdown I make the most of the time outside of office hours to ensure I see my family, and have free headspace time, i.e. a period of time to think strategically and long-term. The core part of the day as you’d expect involves me working with various leaders across the business and speaking with clients – all of which leaves barely a spare second in the day! To switch off I try to make sure I go for a run two or three times a week, and always make time to watch a good movie!

 

Tell us about a typical client instruction for Coutts Family Office.

This may seem a little cliché but there really isn’t a typical instruction. UHNW families and individuals are as eclectic as they come. We represent entrepreneurs, executives, authors and everything in between, both in the UK and overseas. The process is consistent though, we spend considerable time listening and learning about their goals. We work tirelessly to understand what they want their wealth to achieve and then we go away and develop a strategy to help them achieve it.

 

How is sustainability impacting your business?

Sustainability is shaping and driving our business and also presenting us with great opportunity. We’re lucky that sustainability is core to everything at Coutts, it is in every area of what we do. Because it’s such a huge focus for our clients - particularly the younger clients - we love surprising them with just how ‘green’ our focus and business is itself. All of our investments have to meet stringent ESG criteria, I can introduce the client to our head of sustainability, I can pull on so many levers, including exciting invitations to events hosted by David Attenborough. We are so passionate about the subject, and countless times the client is just blown away.   

 

What is your most memorable work moment?

I’m obviously lucky in my job to have met some incredibly successful people and when people find out what I do, they always want those ‘celebrity’ stories. But honestly my most memorable work moment is something far more personal. We were trying to welcome a very significant client to the Coutts Family Office and I’d been in the thick of discussions with the client and our team for many weeks. For what we felt was the final meeting, I let the team progress the final stage without me. I think it surprised them a bit, given the significance of the opportunity but I was so confident in my team that I was largely redundant for that meeting. They nailed the meeting, we welcomed the client to Coutts and everyone was delighted. For me, that was memorable because I was so proud of the team. It was a huge step in their development, but also mine, and I think about it a lot.

 

Best and worst parts of your job?

I absolutely love my job. I truly believe it’s one of the best in the world - leading the ultra-high-net-worth proposition for Coutts. It’s amazing and something I am so proud to do and also in 18 years at Coutts I’ve never had two days the same. The so-called worst bit is the challenge and work required to ensure you continually meet and exceed the standard of service that Coutts demands. It’s a nice problem to have though as a real privilege to work for such a business so passionate about going further for clients than any other.

 

If you weren’t in the private client industry, what else might you be doing?

Probably one of two things actually. I am a huge film geek. I absolutely love the industry so deep-down I hold romanticised ideas that I would have gone to LA, got a job as a runner somewhere and then had a career in the film industry, but definitely not in front of a camera! I would love to have been close to that industry, to that magic. Secondly, I actually qualified as an economics and business studies teacher - so perhaps I’d have pursued that fully as I still think there’s something truly honourable about teaching future generations.

 

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