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Breakfast Club: The London IFA primed to hit £5bn assets

In 2014, New Model Adviser® cover star firm Partners Wealth Management had achieved £750 million assets under advice. Managing partner James Roberts said the London-based firm was aiming to reach £5 billion by 2025, which was met with scepticism by some peers.

Four years later, he still has his eyes on the prize. ‘We are now on £1.5 billion so we have doubled in four years,’ he says. ‘It is great when you set huge goals as you have to think differently about the business.’

Roberts reflects that to hit £5 billion, the firm would have to grow by 20% per year. It is a huge challenge but he is quietly confident. ‘We are never satisfied and always looking to challenge ourselves,’ he says.

We are chatting over an egg-based breakfast at the Sea Containers restaurant on London’s South Bank. Looking out over the Thames, we discuss one of the key issues facing the profession: the lack of women.

Roberts places emphasis on bringing in more female advisers to achieve a better balance, and make Partners Wealth Management a better business. He praises new Business Director Fiona Oliver. ‘Since she started there has been a growth increase, which she can take credit for.’

As for recruitment, Partners is enjoying good momentum, which Roberts says is down to a strong brand. ‘[Potential recruits] know what Partners Wealth is about and know we will give them freedom,’ he says.

He explains Partners avoids imposing one core investment idea on advisers by using discretionary fund managers on the Fusion platform. Advisers have ‘complete investment freedom’ as they have access to more than 500 portfolios on one technological platform.

‘We allow our advisers to be who they want to be and have autonomy,’ he says. ‘We attract advisers with books of between £20 million and £80 million assets under advice who want to keep achieving.

‘At other firms there is too much emphasis put on bringing in new business. We remunerate long-term success, which means the attention is placed on servicing clients to the best of an adviser’s ability.’

As he sips his latte, Roberts shares his aim of working on complete financial freedom with clients. He explains most Partners clients do not face the traditional wealth problems during retirement. Conversations tend to concern what they can do with their excess money during retirement.

Wealth education

‘A lot of people want to make the right kind of impact, and I’m not just referring to ethical investing. It’s about raising awareness of how they are going to live during retirement,’ says Roberts. ‘We are working with more philanthropic businesses and want to incorporate and encourage this approach.

‘The aim is making clients conscious of charitable causes and working on cross-generational issues. We want to ensure clients’ children understand the money they will receive and how they can make a positive impact.’

Overall, Roberts is optimistic about the profession. ‘The retail distribution review has been amazing,’ he says. ‘The professional standards and service have improved and we are starting to look like a proper profession.’

This article was first published in New Model Adviser.