It can be hard to talk about wealth management competition in Swansea, when you’re the lone discretionary fund management firm in the city, writes Alex Foster. When Brewin Dolphin moved out of the city in 2013, Walker Crips saw an opportunity in the region, forging the distinctly Welsh identity of Walker Cambria.
Having operated out of Swansea now for four and a half years, Walker Cambria remains fairly new to the regional landscape. But for Andrew Morgan, portfolio manager and head of Swansea office, and most of their humble team of eight, they know the area a great deal better.
‘We’ve been in Swansea for four and a half years but the vast majority of us were part of Brewin Dolphin in Swansea, before they decided to close in 2013 and merge with their Cardiff office’, Morgan remarks. ‘Swansea, very much the second city of Wales was left with no DFM presence whatsoever. If you look at the similar populations of Cardiff and Bristol compared to Swansea, it seemed a pretty good landscape for us to stay in under the premise of a different company.’
With the opportunity left begging, it simply became about finding the right wealth management firm to best represent the region, and Morgan felt Walker Crips were the most suited for this unique role.
‘Walker Crips were keen to expand here, and we felt their provenance and reputation was something that we could make our mark on in the region’, explains Morgan, evidently stressing the importance that this particular office had in regard to being illustrative of people and pride of South Wales. The ‘Cambria’ part was an example of this, it was about forging a Welsh identity and a distinctly Welsh division, and a new entrant into the local market was very well received.’
It is more than understandable that clients could be grumbled when their wealth management firm leaves their immediate locality, and Morgan knows first-hand the desire for a local provider.
The blossoming Welsh identity of Walker Cambria clearly has had a gravitational effect on the local environment, Morgan remarking that at least three quarters of the offices clients are based within South Wales, boasting an assets under management figure of over £100 million.
With their sights set of increasing their assets under management in the next couple of years, Walker Cambria clearly think there is scope for growth within South Wales, and according to Morgan most of this has been through the outsourcing of the IFA firms which hold a firm grip on South Wales’ wealth market.
Yet whilst opportunity is rife, the lack of wealth management presence in Swansea has its negatives too.
‘We love seeing the fund houses when they come here to see us, however most will only go as far west as Bristol or Cardiff’, Morgan says. ‘We find we have to commonly travel to Bristol or even London to see them instead.’
The same problem can be said of the sourcing staff, and Morgan himself is no stranger to the London centric pull of the industry, having spent a great deal of his career in London forging his path in the wealth management world.
‘We only have a small team and we are very lucky with who we have got. However if we were wanting to build a team of 20/30 people it might be a little more difficult.’
The same can be said of the pool of young talent in the region, though Walker Cambria have just taken on a talented accountancy graduate trainee from Swansea University. Morgan expresses how this is down to the structure they provide for young talent coming through their ranks.
‘The key for us is very much about offering a defined career plan and assuring them that their first three years are going to be years of progression,’ Morgan remarks. ‘It’s less about the starting salary and more about where am I going to be in five years.’
Also we definitely have a much better work/life balance here than I had in London too,’ Morgan adds. ‘Combined with the opportunities in South Wales, these were the two drivers for coming back here for myself.’
Being a Welshman, Morgan’s commitment to South Wales extends beyond just business and he goes onto to reveal the charitable activity that he and Walker Cambria undertake in the region.
‘We sponsored a dinner with a charity called headway in Cardiff last week. They help people with brain injuries rebuild their lives,’ Morgan explains. ‘ Additionally I’m chairman of a charity called Prime Cymru, focusing on getting economically inactive people over the age of 50 back into employment, and Walker Cambria is a patron of that charity.’