Coutts Isle of Man profile

Date: 17 Nov 2006


Before the internet and flights for a pound, the British used to take their holidays in and around Britain. For the North of England and Scotland the Isle of Man became a natural destination – because of its location – near Scotland and bustling centres like Blackpool, Manchester and Liverpool. Workers from the cotton mills of old used take their two week break when factories closed for summer.

Geoff Skillicorn, Senior Executive, Coutts Isle of Man joined the operation in 1972 working across retail and banking until he moved to the Isle of Man Nat West Trust Company in 1986. He says “in the late ’80’s Nat West put together all its banking arms including Coutts, so we went from a small trust company to a world wide wealth management operation. The group merged central UK forces with their Roy West Trust Corporation in the Caribbean and other operations in Switzerland to rebrand with the Coutts name.”

Coutts Isle of Man deals with existing resident clients and international clients who may be based in IOM or anywhere around the world. He says “We compete with the big names like UBS.”

With the Isle of Man perfectly positioned to capture the high net worth boom in Manchester, Geoff said the recent government income tax cap has sparked a lot of enquiries. The maximum amount anyone can pay in income tax is now ¬£100,000 per individual. The Government aim is to attract high net worths out of the UK into IOM. Geoff says “Its possible for hnwi’s to structure a sale of business for instance, so that they can move to IOM in a tax efficient way”. The move is being promoted through the Isle of Man finance and Government and has received some press attention. Geoff is also working with accountants and lawyers who are helping trigger interest. He adds “We’re working with business professionals to gather this incoming client base.” Of the professionals he deals with locally he says it blends between them all but they use Dickinson Cruickshank, Simcocks, PKF and KPMG from the big names. However he finishes “there are also many local smaller firms who all have their own niche clients so we make sure to work with them all.”

In terms of trends, Geoff says the stock market, hedge funds and private equity investment are all proving popular. He comments “Coutts developed their own hedge funds in 1997 and have four of them now as a standard asset class. For private equity we partner with the Carlisle group for

investments which have proven very popular with clients looking longer term.”

One thing that many may not know is that Coutts changed its investment philosophy about seven years ago so they now hire external investment managers for all portfolios. “Investment managers currently used include Barclays to Black Rock” Geoff says. “Lots of different ones for best client returns.”

Wealth innovation is alive and well on the Isle of Man which started its finance push officially in 1960 having made quite a mark with insurers offering financial wraps from the Isle of Man. Geoff says ” Government have demonstrated an international outlook, kept the economy stable and Government policy has been flexible.”

All these attributes have encouraged a new type of e-gaming high net worth client to the Isle of Man and although it remains a small part of Geoff’s business to date (with traditional wealthy clients making up most of the mix), it is expected to grow. The other area of development is with the film business and satellites in space which are encouraging all sorts of movie stars, film and TV businesses to come to the Isle of Man. Geoff comments “Local legislation has been very helpful.”

Trusts are big money for anyone on an outlying island but the Coutts IOM trust business was merged with Jersey last year so the trust business now operates from Jersey, Cayman and Geneva. Although as Geoff is quick to point out “we can still provide the IOM service if a client adviser particularly wants it. And as with banking services we refer the client over if necessary.”

The twenty staff at Coutts run all the Coutts IOM accounts out of Switzerland.Their own offerings include investment management, lending against existing assets and taking deposits.

But its not all work and no play. Geoff says there are regular functions locally that include the usual charity bashes, opera and drinks parties laced with a few celebs: the famous singer Katherine Jenkins visited in June this year. The Hilton with its casino is the popular place for large functions.

Coutts IOM have their own event coming up on the 8th November at Mount Murray Hotel and Country club which is a joint venture with Bonhams.

Coutts IOM info

Coutts IOM actively market to entrepreneurs in their 30-40’s but as industries like e-gaming are so new, legislation may still affect operating locally. Geoff Skillicorn at Coutts IOM says “most are keeping a close eye on developments.”

Coutts Isle of Man’s would like to debunk a theory that their hnw clients should have millions before they will talk to them. “An ideal client should have investable assets of around ¬£250k.” Geoff Skillicorn, Senior Executive at Coutts IOM says.

Isle of Man facts

Geoff has thirty IOM and global clients but on average Coutts advisors have twenty five to a hundred clients each.

Understanding the difference between Coutts and Coutts Isle of Man: The Royal Bank of Scotland are the parent company for the various Coutts entities. Coutts & Co is the private banking arm in London and operates entirely to Coutts Isle of Man but they do refer clients to each other. Coutts Isle of Man is a trading name for Coutts Offshore Europe Ltd. Coutts Isle of Man is run by Coutts Interational which is based in Switzerland.

Isle of Man is the second fastest growing financial centre after Singapore. (According to The Banker magazine).

Richard Hay of Stikeman Elliott has been helping the Isle of Man Government to encourage recognition at an international level

Isle of Man has a natural referral mechanism for: Manchester/ Liverpool/Leeds, Newcastle, Cardiff and Birmingham

At 227 miles, the Isle of Man is ten times bigger than Guernsey and four times bigger than Jersey. It has approximately 76,000 inhabitants.

Waking Ned the movie about an Irish lottery winner was shot in the Isle of Man (1998).

The Isle of Man has the oldest continuous parliament in the world. A 1,000 years old it is an Icelandic parliament called Tynwald. Trevor Hemmings the owner of BlackPool Tower and Pontins has a home there, as does much loved Norman Wisdom.

Recommended hotels The Sefton, Hilton Isle of Man (with casino), Mount Murray Hotel and Country Club and The Regency.

Isle of Man – Annual Supersport TT super bikes road race event in June

One of the events that is very well known in the Isle of Man is the TT racing tourist trophy, which takes place around the first week in June for a two week period. The first week is practice week then race week follows. It started in 1907. The event attracts a lot of people from around the world and is a Mecca for motorbike enthusiasts. Tourists come from as far flung places as California and South Africa to visit. Hotels get booked up months ahead so the Government encourages Isle of Man residents to have people stay in their homes – “Homestay.” The course is thirty seven miles long and ranges from sea level to 2,000 feet which is thought very difficult. Roads close so people take holidays with official statistics for attendance at around 20,000 to 30,000 visitors. Coutts get involved with corporate hospitality and invite people from other branches although sometimes it is tinged with sadness because of crashes and fatalities. Another notable event is the Manx Grand Prix for amateur racers in September.

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