From Georgian times on it’s been relationships at heart of business

After starting life in a London coffee house in 1771, investment management firm Quilter Cheviot this year celebrates its 250th anniversary. Tim Childe, head of the Jersey office, spoke to Ian Heath about what makes the company tick

Tim Childe, Chief Executive of Quilter Picture: JON GUEGAN. (32013009)
Tim Childe, Chief Executive of Quilter Picture: JON GUEGAN. (32013009)

Having spent 31 years with Quilter Cheviot and taken over as head of the Jersey office in 2004, Tim Childe is clearly passionate not just about the company he works for but about investment management as an industry.

He has a clear sense of pride as he explains that the firm can track its origins all the way back to the late 18th century.

‘This year marks the 250th anniversary of Quilter Cheviot. We were established in 1771 and we trace our roots back to a company called William Morris and Sons,’ he said.

‘They initially set up in Jonathan’s Coffee House in London. There was a group of about 150 stockbrokers and that same building ultimately became the London Stock Exchange.

‘Over the next few hundred years they grouped together various businesses and it culminated ultimately in our group being named as Quilter Goodison in 1981.

‘Our chairman then was Nicholas Goodison, who later became chairman of the London Stock Exchange. He was at its helm in 1986 when the Big Bang happened.’

The Big Bang was a period of de-regulation and modernisation ushered in by the Thatcher government that propelled the City of London to the position of the world’s leading finance centre.

Mr Childe explained that Mr Goodison’s role at the heart of these changes was a boon for Quilter Goodison.

‘The Big Bang was a major, ground-breaking new set of guidelines and policies in terms of transparency and pricing and all the rest of it,’ he said.

‘It was good for us – not that I was working for them then, I joined in 1990 – because it meant we were right at the forefront of regulatory change and the new era of investment management and dealing with private clients and institutional clients.

‘We had our own chairman at the helm of the LSE at the time.

‘Since then, we’ve just seen massive regulatory and technological change, requiring lots of investment and adoption of new working practices.’

Reputation was a key factor, Mr Childe explained, in the development of the business, which has operations spanning globally.

‘We’re a highly regulated industry, and in particular Quilter Cheviot because it is wholly owned by Quilter Plc,’ he said.

‘Because of the size of the business we are comfortably in the top three integrated wealth management firms in the UK. We are classed as a tier one from a regulatory standpoint onshore. Here we’re regulated by the JFSC and GFSC and we have a Dubai office as well.

‘Our office has gone from strength to strength and we work very closely with trust companies, law firms based here. We work in partnership and I think that’s how we have grown as an Island and international finance centre – by collaborating with local firms, Jersey Finance, the regulator and making sure that we remain the most-respected IFC. Ultimately that doesn’t turn business away – it attracts business.’

He added that the Middle East and South Africa were important regions for the Jersey office.

‘While we’ve got the 250th anniversary of QC this year, it also marks the fifth anniversary of the opening of our Dubai office, which comes under my wing too,’ he said.

‘There’s a lot of Middle Eastern business administered or managed out of the Channel Islands.

‘It’s a massive market for us, thanks mainly to Jersey Finance. Really they put Jersey on the map in so many jurisdictions and made it the powerhouse that it is today.

‘We have plenty of international clients in other jurisdictions, South Africa being one.

‘We’ve had a licence to operate and do cross-border management for South African clients since 2007. It’s a very important market for us. South Africa and Jersey have very long established links going back decades and decades. Of course, elsewhere in the world where we’re committed and where licensing permits, we manage clients as well.’

Mr Childe said that what he enjoys most in investment management is client engagement and he believes that this is also a crucial aspect of the business.

‘Before I joined this firm, I was with another wealth management firm, which was predominantly centred in London, and had a Jersey operation,’ he said.

‘So, I’d already had three years working with investment managers, private clients, investment managers, and institutional investment managers based in London. They were one of the market leading firms, so that was a really good grounding for me.

‘I was captivated by the engagement with clients and the enjoyment you got from working with them and forging relationships. This business is really centred on relationships and that’s how you attract clients.’

He added that Quilter Cheviot’s reputation and huge resources were also vital selling points, as well as their ability to offer strong investment returns.

‘We take it as a given that we provide an excellent level of service and will give you great reporting and all the technology platforms that clients require,’ he said,

‘We have our size, reputation, history and resource to offer. We’ve got the biggest research team in the discretionary fund management industry in British Isles.

‘Portfolio returns are, of course, critically important and we’d like to think we tick all these other boxes as well. But it really is all about relationships.

‘We’re dealing with all different types of clients, charities, pension funds, trustees and private clients of all ages – the young generation, the older generation. At the end of the day, they want to know they have got a rapport with the people who are dealing with their day-to-day affairs and that their assets are entrusted to a reputable firm which is a safe pair of hands. They want to know that someone’s got experience and they can deal with any situation in terms of market fluctuations or upheavals, as well as being that trusted point of contact, not just for them, but also their own family. ‘

Having worked with Quilter Cheviot for so long meant that Mr Childe has dealt with client families on a generational basis.

He said that it was that sort of personal relationship which had been crucial to the growth and ongoing success of the firm.

‘Many of our clients have been with us for decades and decades. I’ve had clients for 30 years and I now look after their children, grandchildren, relatives, and we’ve really grown chiefly by referral actually,’ he said.

‘We have arguably the largest discretionary fund management base in the Channel Islands but we don’t shout about that, we’ve just quietly grown it.’

He added: ‘It’s really about engaging with people from all walks of life. I think it’s a privilege to head this office. We’re not the size of a big sort of high street bank or anything but we’ve got 30 staff and we run a lot of assets and like to think we’ve got a strong reputation locally.

‘We’ve got a very flat structure, which is about just trying to engage my colleagues to do the right thing and give them as much responsibility as possible because then you get much more productivity and passion in the common objectives.

‘Being a head of a business I think it gives that business voice, which can be used to influence and possibly change for the good.’

One of the key trends in investment management these days is the emergence of ethical, social and governance investing, known as ESG for short.

Mr Childe explained that Quilter Cheviot has established a pioneering, and award winning, fund in this space more than a decade ago and had significantly broadened its ESG offering since.

‘As a business we’ve placed a massive emphasis on ESG and responsible investment. We allow our clients to make sure that they’re on the same journey as us,’ he said.

‘With our existing clients and new clients, we flag the choices they have in terms of their level of engagement they can take through their portfolio in terms of ESG policies and screening.

‘We have our own responsible investment team and 11 years ago we created a fund called the Climate Assets Fund. That fund focuses on climate change, resource scarcity and population shifts. We’re very proud of it and it’s award-winning.

‘We have separate to that hundreds of millions of pounds now dedicated to ESG mandates. As a company, we are now a signatory of the 2020 UK stewardship code, and in fact, we were one of the first wave of asset managers who achieved that signatory status.

‘We’re also a signatory to the UN-backed principles of responsible investment and achieved an “A” rating for strategy and governance.’

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