Chris Woodhouse: Together, we are a stronger business

Trailblazing adventures on the high seas of change; bringing together two unique businesses against the challenging backdrop of a global pandemic.

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Cherry Reynard
Published: 26 Nov 2021 Updated: 13 Jun 2022
7 Chris W 01

Trailblazing adventures on the high seas of change

In a magazine dedicated to adventure, it seems apt to talk about my own journey over the past year. Against the challenging backdrop of a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, we brought together two unique businesses in Tilney and Smith & Williamson – attracting a major new equity investment in the process.

The purpose of combining these two long- established groups was to create a business exceptionally well placed to support clients with both the management of their personal wealth and their business interests. Their blended expertise would span a wide range of professional services for businesses, as well as tax advice, financial planning and investment management for individuals and families.

We wanted to build on the complementary strengths of both organisations. Smith & Williamson brought its highly respected professional services business to the combined group and Tilney its strength in financial planning as well as Bestinvest, its award-winning online investment service.

We had not expected to be undertaking this ambitious project amid a global pandemic. But this has been a period which has brought out the best in people. Among our clients we see the qualities of remarkable resilience, entrepreneurialism and adaptability – the qualities shown in abundance through this magazine. At our business, we have seen our people rise to meet the challenges they have been set time and again and I am very proud of the way the business looks today.

After our first twelve months as a combined group, there is no doubt that together, we are a stronger business, with a wider range of expertise and an even deeper pool of talent.
These include over 140 partners and directors in professional services, more than 270 financial planners and 300 investment managers. We have an expanded office network to support clients, with a presence in 27 towns and cities across the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Channel Islands. We are using our greater scale to invest in new technology, so that we can enhance client service, innovate and support our professionals.

Since the merger we have continued to operate under our existing legacy brands and ensured complete continuity in client relationships. But at the same time we’ve quietly made excellent progress with the integration. The management team have been in place for a year, organisational structures have been both designed and implemented and our teams are combined and have been working together for many months, with drive and commitment.

In bringing the Tilney Smith & Williamson group together, we firmly believe that a strong culture, based on shared values and purpose, is vital to the success of our business. We therefore undertook considerable work engaging with colleagues and clients, to understand the values that are important to them and to identify a purpose and set of values that is applicable across everything we do. Our chosen purpose is ‘to place the power of good advice into more hands’, which succinctly encapsulates our mission whether that is serving businesses, charities or individuals and their families.

We have also been attracting new talent across the business, covering both financial services and professional services and have made three external hires to the executive committee.

The Board too has been joined by new Directors during the course of this year, with Bill McNabb, the former CEO and Chairman of The Vanguard Group, the world’s largest mutual fund manager, becoming an independent non-executive director earlier in the year. We were recently delighted to announce that Chris Grigg has joined the Board and will become Chair upon receipt of regulatory approval. Chris was CEO of The British Land Company PLC until November last year and was formerly CEO of Barclays Commercial Bank. He is also Chair of the newly created UK Infrastructure Bank and is Senior Independent Director of BAE Systems plc. Both Chris and Bill bring a huge amount of experience and insight to the business.

It has been an adventure, albeit a slightly different one that those described on the pages ahead. We may have been mapping our organisation rather than the high seas, but we have emerged in fine health, having achieved something great.

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This article was previously published on Smith & Williamson prior to the launch of Evelyn Partners.