Although not all the institutions on the findaWEALTHMANAGER.com panel offer financial planning (around 40% prefer to focus purely on investment management) these services are vitally important to many clients. Indeed, many of our users mention wanting a “one-stop-shop” for all their financial affairs.
Here, we offer key information and client insights on a selection of some of the top financial planning firms in the UK today.
1. Smith & Williamson
Smith & Williamson is an independently-owned financial services group providing the full spectrum of investment management, accountancy, tax, corporate and financial advisory services to private clients, corporates and charities. The firm has 13 offices across the UK and is known for its expertise in serving client groups with distinct needs and perhaps financial planning complexities, such as entrepreneurs and professional footballers.
Smith & Williamson’s offering for private clients covers all areas of personal financial planning, and the firm has particular expertise in pre- and post-retirement issues, such as SIPP management, investment structuring, tax-efficient investing, IHT mitigation and overseas pensions.
Users of findaWEALTHMANAGER.com tell us they particularly like the “one-stop-shop” element of Smith & Williamson’s offering – particularly entrepreneurs who may be approaching a significant liquidity event and so need advice across their entire financial affairs, both personal and corporate (the firm is also deeply involved in the entrepreneurial community in the UK and participates regular in thought leadership events for business-owners).
Clients also praise Smith & Williamson for the depth of its financial planning offering, which includes a specific service set up to help divorcing couples navigate the complexities around splitting pensions.
2. Charles Stanley
Charles Stanley is one of the oldest firms on the London Stock Exchange, having first appeared as an independent member in 1852. Its traditional heritage notwithstanding, the firm is known today for having made some very forward-thinking technology investments, including iPhone and Apple Watch apps enabling clients to monitor their investments on the move.
Following a recent restructure, Charles Stanley will operate under four distinct operating units: investment management, asset management, Charles Stanley Direct (its offering for self-directed investors) and financial planning. The firm has designed its financial planning service specifically for clients who, although they may not want ongoing wealth management services, still wish to have their financial affairs examined periodically in a holistic way – so that they can maximise opportunities to grow their wealth and invest in a tax-efficient manner.
In general, regional coverage is a real strength of Charles Stanley’s, since the firm boasts 24 offices across the UK. It is also praised for its technological capabilities, both for self-directed investors and private clients.
Charles Stanley is known for its decentralised investment approach, meaning that portfolio managers have greater freedom to personalise portfolios and this bespoke feel is also said to apply to the financial planning arm.
3. Cazenove Capital Management
Cazenove Capital Management is the wealth management business of Schroders in the UK, Channel Islands and Asia. The firm is the result of a 2013 merger between Schroders and Cazenove Capital, both of which have venerable histories: Schroders was founded in 1804 as a merchant bank and Cazenove in 1823 as a stockbroker.
Cazenove Capital Management has offices in London, Chester, Edinburgh, Oxford, Jersey and Guernsey. With a stated aim to provide a comprehensive wealth management offering, the firm offers personalised discretionary and advisory investment services to both onshore and offshore clients, as well as wider wealth management services such as wealth planning, cash administration, deposit-taking and lending.
At Cazenove Capital Management in-house wealth planners are able to work closely with clients and portfolio managers to whatever degree is necessary.
Our users have praised the fact that wealth planners are involved right from the start of relationships and the emphasis placed on making sure that wealth is held in the optimum structure for the client’s profile and needs. Great attention is paid to the capital growth and income required by clients, their time horizon, tax circumstances and the location of their assets, as well as their wider financial affairs.
Seen as a highly-professional organisation, clients also praise the clarity of literature provided by Cazenove Capital Management, particularly that concerning tax-efficient structures.
4. Psigma Investment Management
Founded in 2002, Psigma Investment Management is London-based and has a core investment offering comprising fully bespoke portfolio management and Managed Portfolio Service (dependent on level of investment).
While not strictly a financial planning firm, Psigma still warrants its place on our list as its structure means that it is able to offer a far broader offering than investment management alone. Psigma is part of the Punter Southall Group, a diversified financial services company offering actuarial, pensions consultancy, administration and investment services for pension scheme trustees, employers, private clients and institutions. This means that financial planning matters such as trusts, IHT mitigation or pensions can be efficiently addressed by calling on in-house expertise.
Psigma has a distinct investment ethos which places great emphasis on targeted returns and delivering a certain level of gains above inflation. This is intended to suit those nearing, or at the end of their working lives, who are looking for their pension assets to grow ahead of inflation; this approach is also proving popular with young professionals with families, whose issue is keeping up with rising school fees.
Clients of Psigma tell us that they really appreciate the fact that ad hoc financial planning questions can be tackled – as senior executives have put it to us – “by literally by going across the floor”.
5. Quilter Cheviot
Quilter Cheviot Investment Management (which has roots going back to 1771) is also predominantly an investment house, but one which has good capabilities in financial planning due to its specialism in managing investments for a wide range of pension schemes. These include Self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs); Defined Benefit/Defined Contribution schemes; Small self-administered schemes (SSASs) and overseas pensions.
Also like Psigma Investment Management, Quilter Cheviot is part of a wider group – here Old Mutual Wealth, which is a FTSE 100 company. Quilter Cheviot has 14 offices across the UK, along with one in Dubai.
Our users praise Quilter Cheviot for its combination of personalised service and a boutique feel along with a broad platform – which has been further enhanced by it coming under the auspices of Old Mutual.
Also praised for its broad offering yet boutique feel, Quilter Cheviot has been lauded by our users as “having wealth management in its DNA”.
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This list is just a sample of the fantastic financial planning capabilities that can be accessed via findaWEALTHMANAGER.com, and is by no means exhaustive.
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The team at findaWEALTHMANAGER.com provide industry insights aimed at affluent individuals looking to work their wealth harder. The team explores investing guides, trends and practices to shine a light on the notoriously opaque wealth management industry. The website is a market leading and global tool which provides affluent individuals with intelligent access to the wealth management industry, offering an incredible variety of wealth managers to ensure that we are able to cater for all kinds of client, with every kind of need.
People tend to focus on the investments side of the wealth management equation, but a sound financial plan should really be your starting point. Everything follows from knowing what you are investing for, when you need results and what it will take to achieve your goals.