Williams joined Vestra Wealth in 2013 to set up the private office division, which has AuM of £400 million and features five core partners, who with staff, jointly make up a team of twelve. Clients are ‘increasingly sold products rather than receiving impartial advice by the industry’, she says. ‘Most family office services come from large institutions generating in-house product — and so are not independent — or from small niche advisers, who do not have the depth of access to the financial markets in the way I believe Vestra does.’ The company is a veteran in this division which is relatively new, and is now featuring new ventures by Investec, Salamanca and Mishcon de Reya. Williams says that as the firm was the first in the private office industry, they are already fully equipped with necessary protocol and agreements to charge ahead with its reinforcement and development.
Clients of this sports and countryside enthusiast include entrepreneurs, finance executives and multi-generation families. The wealth manager, who graduated from Cambridge with an MA in Economics, started in M&A before moving to wealth management at UBS and Deutsche Bank (where she led one of the UHNW teams in London). She also has experience at HSBC and the Dutch bank ABN AMRO.
‘UHNWs are increasingly trying to define the longer-term plans and strategy for their wealth,’ she says, ‘whether it’s for their families and succession or for their philanthropic aims.’ She says past conversations with clients focused on whether ‘to make money or to not make money’, but clients now have a much more forward-looking outlook, as their wealth is becoming bigger at a faster rate and are starting to have a more strategic viewpoint on wealth management.
She says there is an increasing gap in the market between providers (with an immediate or short-term outlook) despite the fact that family objectives are becoming more long-term. ‘[Families] appreciate somebody sitting beside them and guiding them or just providing them a founding board for the plan. A lot of these families are very successful, very accomplished individuals or groups, who I think sometimes just need somebody to bounce ideas off – and sometimes they need somebody to do something more structured to help them with the thinking process for the long term [goals].’
Overseeing four partners, each with more than twenty years of experience, she co-ordinates a multi-family office experience for clients. It’s a deliberate attempt to show that Vestra is much more than an investment offering and has clearly found favour with the market, Williams advising just ten clients, all of whom joined in the past year and a half.
She also believes wealth deserves dialogue and so champions Vestra’s partnership with the School of Life that has produced a series of philosophical essays. One of Williams’ clients says: ‘[She was] the adviser with whom I wanted to discuss matters prior to making a decision. The final outcome is that I’m going to extend my business with Vestra Wealth.’