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Family ideals

In 1986, JO Hambro Investment Management launched as a private client firm, set up to run money for the Hambro family. The group has maintained this focus on looking after portfolios for private individuals and families although it is now also offering internally managed equity and fixed-income funds to external investors.

In the 1980s, the Hambro family felt that boutique companies specialising in investment advice and management were the best destination for their money as they could offer a more tailored service.

To that end, Richard Hambro, David Chaplin and Lord Balniel established JOHIM and the firm began to build a solid reputation in this competitive space.

Clients range from wealthy families and trusts to entre-preneurs and the firm has updated its investment capabilities to cater for changing tastes over the years. In recent times, for example, many clients have wanted to take big liquidity positions to shelter from market volatility and the group strengthened its fixed-interest and cash capacity with the hire of David Gibbs in 2005.

Like many JOHIM managers, Gibbs has over 30 years experience of this specialist market, with new bond recruit Jeff Keen also a 20-year veteran. The group has also added alternative plans such as hedge funds to its range to meet growing demand for absolute return-type strategies.

Of the total 100 staff, 23 are fund managers with direct client relationship responsibilities and tend to look after 40-45 families or individuals. Overall, JOHIM currently has £2.8bn in assets under management.

Apart from the private client mandates, the group also has a number of specialist funds under the Waverton banner for use by internal and external investors. These are marketed by Charles Bathurst, who joined in 2008.

The Waverton funds were initially structured to give JOHIM wider investment scope than its peers, with internal capacity to invest directly in quality companies from around the world. In recent years, the group has gradually built a third-party distribution model for these products across the UK and Europe.

There are four key portfolios in the Dublin-domiciled umbrella, focusing on the Asia, Europe, UK and global equity markets.

Among the best-known managers is Russell Wallis, who co-founded Thornhill Investment Management in 1985 and joined JOHIM in 2006 to launch the UK portfolio with Simon Wilson. Alan Gibbs , another 30-year-plus market veteran, heads the Asian product, joining JOHIM in 2005 after a long career spanning Jardine Fleming, Save & Prosper and South China Securities. Elsewhere, ex-Deutsche manager Katrina Norris has run the European fund (which also includes UK stocks) since 2006 and Jennifer Fisher arrived from Cazenove in 2004 to head the global equity offering.

On the hedge side, JOHIM has two long/short equity vehicles, Pepin, covering Europe, and an Asian including Japan absolute return fund called Tai Chi.

In terms of future products, the group’s newly appointed CEO Hugh Grootenhuis – at JOHIM since 1999 – says additional UK and global bond offerings are a possibility plus something in emerging markets as clients seek further exposure there.

Until 2000, the firm was owned by the Hambro family and JOHIM management but the former wanted to exit its stake and sold the business to Credit Suisse. Now the firm benefits from a strong parent and also remains a separately managed boutique entity within the group’s private banking division. JOHIM now provides discretionary management where required for Credit Suisse clients.

Over its 23 years, the group has always wanted to build its quality of service and reputation first and foremost rather than simply amassing assets for assets sake.

However, with many clients still sitting on big cash positions after the turmoil of last year, the group now sees itself in a strong position to win business.

Consistency has also remained a watchword at JOHIM, with several multi-decade industry veterans and a culture of long private client manager tenures.

While bigger firms tend to have higher manager turnover, the group has only lost two private client directors in its history and can therefore confidently describe itself as a safe pair of hands.

Grootenhuis also highlights the strong parent in Credit Suisse, claiming many smaller firms tend to disappear after acquisition but JOHIM still maintains its own identity almost a decade on.


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