Whilst the world might have slowed during the COVID pandemic, the UHNW community did not. Billions were poured into philanthropic efforts targeted towards PPE, hospital equipment and vaccine research and production; ESG and sustainable investments became the new world order; and a digital-first approach was fully adopted. Amidst this backdrop, UHNW advisors demonstrated through their Magic Circle Awards submissions that they were up for the challenge.
“The winners in this year’s awards proved that they can operate and perform at a high level, and meet the unique challenges that we’ve seen in the past 12 months”, said Josh Matthews, Co-founder and managing partner at MASECO Private Wealth, and a judge of this year’s Magic Circle Awards. Fellow judge Iain Younger, a director at EY Frank Hirth added: “It was fascinating to see how individuals and companies had adapted and evolved their practices to meet their clients’ needs in what was such a strange 12 months for everyone”.
Thomson Snell & Passmore
Winner of the Silver Award: Law Firm of the Year – UK-wide
Thomson Snell & Passmore is the oldest law firm in the world and its history of adapting and embracing change came into its own during the pandemic. During this time, Joanna Pratt took over as senior partner and first on her ‘to-do’ list was to help the firm navigate COVID.
“It was certainly an interesting, if not somewhat challenging, time to start my appointment as Senior Partner.” reflects Joanna. “I have been continuously impressed with how well the firm has pulled together – not only in terms of offering consistently excellent service to clients, but in helping, supporting and checking in on colleagues too. I have often said that a firm is only as good as its people, and I am surrounded by exceptional colleagues at every level.”
The firm pivoted to a new way of working quickly and harnessed innovative technology to assist with the transition. The focus on technology continues and the firm is currently exploring the use of facial recognition software.
“It is this collaborative culture, resilience and willingness to learn and adapt, which will allow us to continue to grow and thrive, as we explore new ways of working and use the lessons of the pandemic to provide ever better service for our clients”, said Joanna. 2020 marked the firm’s 450th anniversary, and while it might not have been the celebration they were expecting, it won’t be a year they forget.
Winner of the Gold Award: Chambers of the Year
James Brightwell is the winner of the Silver Award: Barrister of the Year
Serle Court has shown that the chambers of the future are forward-looking and quick to react. With much of their work consisting of international and offshore trust cases, the barristers have adapted to remote hearings. One of these cases includes Wong v Grand View Private Trust Company Ltd & Ors, which is thought to be the largest contentious trusts case ever, and certainly the largest case in Bermuda’s history by value in the common law world. There are 10 Serle Court barristers (four silks and six junior counsel) appearing on both sides of the argument in the case, representing all three of the main groups of parties at the trial, currently taking place remotely.
On top of this, the chambers introduced a webinar programme that delivered almost 100 webinars across all core areas in 9 months and introduced SerleShare, a series of thought leadership content articles direct from Serle Court’s barristers, arbitrators and mediators.
James Hambro & Partners
Winner of the Silver Award: Financial Advisory Firm of the Year
Winner of the Gold Award: Impact/ESG Manager of the Year
James Hambro & Partners’ CEO Andy Steel described 2020 as presenting more challenges than he’d experienced in the past 30 years put together, but fortunately the firm’s model stood up to the test.
“Our model played well in a difficult environment. The fact that the client has such a close one-to-one relationship with the financial planner and the portfolio manager and that they work so closely with each other, really came into its own at a time when clients needed more reassurance than they’ve ever needed before. It wasn’t just the fact that we managed to deliver really good portfolio performance, it was the fact that we were available and talking to clients at whatever frequency was appropriate to them. I am so proud of what the team achieved. We didn’t go missing, we upped our game”, said Andy.
At the core of their investment process is sustainability and James Beck, Partner and Head of Investments explains why: “As an investment manager our purpose is to create better financial outcomes for our clients. We therefore have a duty to think deeply about the risks that environmental and social factors pose to every investment we make. As stakeholders we can make a difference and help bring about positive change by encouraging companies to cut emissions and do better. That is why responsible investment is such an important part of our investment philosophy. We aim to place our clients’ capital in the best position to make attractive economic returns whilst supporting progress towards a fairer and more sustainable world”.
Winner of the Gold Award: Trust Company of the Year
2020 has seen IQ-EQ bring several new products to the market for its family offices and private clients. “We’ve now made it really clear as to how and where we are able to service their unique and evolving requirements”, said Steve Sokić, Group Head of Private Wealth. The developments include launching Family Office Services, which brings together “a dedicated, global, cross-segment offering exclusively for our growing number of family office clients worldwide”.
Further developments include a new online platform for IQ-EQ CrossDeal, launched in July 2020, as a niche service offering connecting wealthy individuals, funds and corporates to private deals in the alternative assets space, as well as enhancing IQ-EQ Cosmos with an integrated family office dashboard, as well as ESG reporting.
“With the next decade set to be full of challenges and opportunities as trillions of dollars of family wealth are passed down to the next generation, family offices are already growing as stewards and influencers to facilitate this transition. So we want to ensure we’re as focused and flexible as possible in our position as trusted partners to our family office clients – and the families they represent – throughout their evolution and across generations as well as the globe”, said Steve.
London & Capital
Winner of the Gold Award: Private Client Asset Manager of the Year
Winner of the Silver Award: Private Investment Office of the Year
At the core of London & Capital’s offering is their expertise in managing investments for wealthy families. Communicating with clients is a key part of providing the high standard of service and COVID presented both a challenge and an opportunity to their traditional ways of working. “COVID-19 taught us that less is more. That quality matters more than quantity. That digital is more sustainable than printing”.
From their quarterly Macro webinar to the monthly Investment Desk Bulletin, the goal is to provide a range of materials, with varying details, to ensure that any client, whatever their investment knowledge, can read their market views. It has been a great success with clients commenting: “Really interesting and helpful to hear your thoughts and great to find a way to connect in lieu of seeing each other in person”; “the Debrief was super. Very approachable, and some interesting new directions clearly coming for London & Capital”.
Vikash Gupta, VAR Capital
Winner of the Editor’s Choice Award
During the past year, VAR Capital celebrated crossing the one billion mark in AUM and expanded by hiring several senior professionals. Vikash said: “I am thrilled to be awarded the Editor’s Choice Award. As a relatively new business in the wealth industry, this award strongly recognises the team and reflects their hard work over a tough period.”
The winners of the Magic Circle Awards 2021 were celebrated in a virtual event on 17th May, attended by over 120 guests, including a DJ set by Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Richard Jones.
The evening was a celebration of excellence in the wealth management sector, highlighting the quality of services offered to UHNWs, which despite the turmoil of the past 18 months has not wavered.
Submissions for the 2022 Magic Circle Awards will open in early July. Sign up here to be the first to hear.