WITHOUT brokers like the ones on our list, money would sit in bank accounts gathering dust. They are the soul of the UK’s investment strategy. At the moment, when people are looking for stability, they are more vital than ever. Innovative, forward-looking and offering great personal service, these five are stars.
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The UK’s largest execution-only retail stockbroker, the firm has moved with the times and as well as equities and funds, now also offers ETFs, CFDs, structured products, spread trading, covered warrants and foreign exchange trading. It has increasingly started to use social media to deepen its engagement with clients, and recently launched a new product called SmartWoman, which is designed to encourage more women to invest.
One of the founding firms of the London Stock Exchange in the 18th century, the firm has grown through a series of mergers to become one of the largest independent investment managers for private clients in the UK. The group now has 41 regional offices and £23bn funds under management and 669 approved investment managers. It prides itself on personalisation, and says that every client’s portfolio is designed specially and managed locally.
Well-known chairman Terry Smith recently stood down, to be replaced by Mark Brown, but the basics of Collins Stewart’s business remain unchanged; it prides itself on mixing personal client service with “an institutional investment approach”. It has a diverse offering that goes beyond UK equities, and includes derivatives and global equities. The downturn has led it to innovate, and it has moved heavily into fixed interest advisory services.
A recent change of personnel at the top – founder Stephen Lansdown has decided to step down and take on a non-executive role – is unlikely to change things fundamentally for the Bristol-based broker. And things are going well for it. Recent results showed an 18 per cent increase in profits. It has grown throughout the financial crisis, and now has approximately £17.6bn of assets under administration or management on behalf of private investors. Its flagship Vantage brand has 300,000 clients. Big is beautiful.
In the 21 years since it was founded, Killik has grown to manage £2bn for 25,000 private clients, and is one of the few stockbrokers that offer nominee shareholders the ability to vote. The firm prides itself on providing daily research, and was instrumental in the establishment of the LSE’s new retail bond market in January 2010, which added a new string to retail investors’ bow. As well as traditional small and mid-cap IPOs and secondary fundraising, it is also bang up to date, offering CFDs, spread bets and managed futures.