Stuart Cummins, Managing Director and Executive Head – Nedbank Private Wealth International, explains how the firm combines wealth planning, investing, lending, trust and FX capabilities to create a full-service proposition with particular appeal for globally minded clients.
What is Nedbank Private Wealth’s history and how does it stand now in terms of its UK presence and client base?
Stuart: Nedbank Private Wealth’s original parents were Board of Executors (BoE) Private Clients and the Robert Fleming group. The BoE heritage in South Africa dates back to 1834. In the UK, meanwhile, we started life on the Isle of Man in 1987 as part of the Fleming family business. Nedbank Private Wealth is 100% owned by Nedbank, but operates in London, Isle of Man, Jersey and Dubai. The business has its own capital base, independent credit rating and board. We operate in the UK as a boutique, high service private bank and wealth management business. We exist to protect our clients’ wealth, advise them with integrity and make their lives easier.
We work closely with clients and their families across generations, and are ideally placed to deliver the right level of service to help them meet their financial needs – now and in the future – whether they are based in the UK or internationally. We firmly believe in the mantra ‘don’t just plan to invest, invest to a plan’. As such, we deliver our wealth planning, investment management and private banking services to structure clients’ finances to ensure intergenerational wealth succession and a philanthropic plan to leave a legacy that stands the test of time.
We work closely with clients and their families across generations, and are ideally placed to deliver the right level of service to help them meet their financial needs – now and in the future – whether they are based in the UK or internationally
Who is the typical client of Nedbank Private Wealth in the UK? What is their stage of life and what are they trying to achieve with their wealth?
Stuart: Our clients seek out a full-service wealth management and banking relationship, given they are successful individuals that don’t have a crystal ball on how life will pan out and want to know every eventuality can be covered by a team who really knows them and their families. We are one of the few boutique private banks that offer a highly personal service, but can handle assets in the UK and internationally, providing investment management, execution-only, lending, banking and wealth planning services, all through our banking/investment platform – all with single statements, online reporting and mobile technology.
Meanwhile, we have international clients in over 160 countries and who may relocate somewhere else in the next two to three years. Our footprint, multi-currency approach and global purview allow us to be really well positioned for internationally mobile clients, including professionals, senior executives, and entrepreneurs.
How would you describe Nedbank Private Wealth’s investment ethos and risk management approach? Does the firm have expertise in any particular areas of investment?
Stuart: We have five pillars to our investment approach and we manage money to expected returns, setting out what we will aim to deliver for each risk profile over the stated timeframe with no surprises. We actively manage investments, balancing longer-term market cycles with short-term tactical tilts, to deliver performance above market returns. We are globally diverse through a multi-asset, multi-manager approach across asset classes, geographies and currencies to maximise the potential return investments for every level of risk.
It is about creating value, then ensuring that we keep a keen eye on costs to retain as much value as possible in the net returns delivered to clients. That focus looks at the price you pay for each investment as it is an important factor for future returns
We have a long-term focus to ensure clients are on track to comfortably achieve their financial goals within the right timeline. This is helped by our proactive approach to risk management. We look at market risks and risks created by global economic events, but we also gauge the impact of risk on our clients’ financial goals. It is about creating value, then ensuring that we keep a keen eye on costs to retain as much value as possible in the net returns delivered to clients. That focus looks at the price you pay for each investment as it is an important factor for future returns. Costs are also managed through active fee negotiations with the investment managers used, collective trades to lower transaction costs and ensuring there are no entry or exit fees.
Many of our users have currency exposure from having investments, revenue streams or outgoings outside the UK, and this is an area where a professional wealth manager provides particularly vital assistance. Currency movements are notoriously hard to predict and any attempt to hedge your exposure needs to be undertaken in the most careful and cost-conscious manner. As a former FX trader, I beg you not to dabble in risky FX products.
How does Nedbank Private Wealth go about devising investment strategies and building portfolios which suit each individual client’s risk-profile and financial goals?
Stuart: I mentioned before about our risk management approach and how we focus on the risks that stem from market movements, as well as economic factors such as inflation or interest rates or political events. We also monitor the impact of those movements on the clients themselves. At the start of a relationship, we assess a client’s appetite for risk, as well as how much risk they can afford to take. However, it’s the regular conversations that help us understand what effect the changing market really has on them emotionally. At any time, we can move clients to a higher or lower level of risk based on those conversations. We can, as a firm, provide a world class risk management approach, but it is really all about the client and balancing their long-term financial aspirations with everyday realities.
At the start of a relationship, we assess a client’s appetite for risk, as well as how much risk they can afford to take. However, it’s the regular conversations that help us understand what effect the changing market really has on them emotionally
We also have a collective approach to investing. This means that we find the best managers or funds, and use these to build a portfolio for you. This spreads your risk, and our role is to monitor those managers and replace them if they fail to deliver what is expected. This allows us to manage our clients’ investments and be able to steer portfolios quickly to adapt to world events, which allows our clients to relax, focus on their personal interests, families or businesses.
How would you describe Nedbank Private Wealth’s approach to servicing clients?
Stuart: Starting at a basic level, we believe in personal service, direct lines and named points of contact. We don’t use call centres. We want you to be able to speak directly to someone that knows you, who takes responsibility for what you need. They will also get to know your family, taking the hassle and administration from you, by simply getting the basics right. We know that time is precious.
Really good service is key and our relationships with clients are managed by our private bankers, who pull in experts from our wealth planning, investments, lending, trust or foreign exchange teams as and when they are needed. We have a really broad offering, but it’s important to us that there is a balance between frequent conversations with your banker and accessing really good expertise that stems from deep experience. Clients can also call our qualified client services team who typically handle day-to-day payments or foreign exchange transfers. Or clients can use our online banking portal and our app. We continually seek to develop options for clients based on their needs – for example, for a few very sophisticated clients who are interested in currency investments, we offer a direct foreign exchange service.
We want you to be able to speak directly to someone that knows you, who takes responsibility for what you need. They will also get to know your family, taking the hassle and administration from you, by simply getting the basics right. We know that time is precious
That bespoke approach applies to our view of clients. By taking the time to understand what is important to them, we then tailor the service accordingly. So, if a client really wants help getting their child on the property ladder but they need help with the mortgage, we would lend as we are taking a view on our relationship with the client and their family.
How does Nedbank Private Wealth help clients engage more effectively with the management of their wealth?
Stuart: It really depends on each client. Many clients want to understand what their wealth can achieve – financially for them and future generations and/or whether it might result in a legacy – and know every detail as to how that is accomplished. Others want to appreciate that we are maximising their wealth and do not want to know any detail. They simply trust us to adopt the best approach for them.
For the first set of clients, we offer client newsletters (emailed and printed), one-on-one meetings, seminars and webinars, as well as more intimate events on specific aspects of their businesses or specific needs. And it’s an area in which we are investing as we look to step-up that level of support online – through our website, mobile app, chat functionality and much more.
To ensure this meets clients’ needs, our private bankers seek feedback from clients and we carry out regular firm-wide client surveys, which this year will see us benchmark what we do against a set of our peers. We also benchmark our investments through a firm called Asset Risk Consultants, to ensure that what we say we deliver is independently assessed. The feedback from all these sources pushes us to continually develop what we do.
What else is distinctive about Nedbank Private Wealth?
We are distinctly different and believe our approach is unique. That difference is hard to communicate as the devil really is in the detail.
For example, our investments are global in nature. Lots of managers state this, but we use our foreign exchange capabilities to manage clients’ currency exposure and we do not have a home bias – relatively little is invested in the UK just because this is where the business is based.
Our investments are global in nature. Lots of managers state this, but we use our foreign exchange capabilities to manage clients’ currency exposure and we do not have a home bias – relatively little is invested in the UK just because this is where the business is based
Our awards validate our commitment to clients. For example, we have won the title of best UK private bank for five years running in the City of London Wealth Management Awards, as voted for by our clients. We are also the only private bank listed in the Sunday Times Best 100 Companies to work for in the UK. We believe that by looking after our staff, they will look after you.