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Wealth Manager: Sam Liddle captures the adviser/discretionary middle ground

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by James Phillipps on Mar 28, 2013 at 00:01

With a wealth of experience in both the private client and fund management worlds, Sam Liddle is well positioned to capture the middle ground between discretionary and advisory.

He launched Albemarle Street Partners with former Skandia Investment Management CIO Clive Hale and Williams de Broë head of fund research Dan Kemp last August, targeting advisers wanting a bespoke investment offering while retaining control of client assets.

‘In our time we have come across a lot of IFAs who have felt coerced to go down the discretionary fund manager or fund of funds route but didn’t really feel that was what they wanted,’ Liddle says.

‘They wanted to still offer an advisory service but felt that the FSA thought they should be outsourcing it. We saw there was an opportunity to help IFAs who wanted to continue offering investment advice but didn’t have a robust enough process or were not confident enough in their skills.’

The idea was born in an initial meeting at Brown’s Hotel on Albemarle Street in Mayfair, with the location providing the inspiration behind the company’s name, although Liddle admits subsequent meetings were held in the rather less exorbitantly priced cafe round the corner.

He says the three have complementary skills, with Hale strong on the macro and written work (he writes the ‘View from the Bridge’ blog); Kemp, with his analyst background, is very quants driven; while Liddle specialises in asset allocation and has a lot of retail IFA contacts.

At the time, Hale was doing consultancy work for a number of IFAs and this helped formulate the business plan, which sees Albemarle provide a range of different investment services to IFAs, depending on their needs.

A range of five risk-rated portfolios lies at the heart of the proposition, but the firm also provides a broad range of consultancy services covering everything from asset allocation to managing advisers’ existing relationships with discretionary fund managers (DFMs).

‘We have five standard models and some IFAs just white label them, or they can be tailored for their client bank,’ Liddle says. ‘Other firms have not had an investment process before and we put that in place for them. We carry out the whole of market fund research and advise them on tactical and strategic asset allocation. We see ourselves as the IFAs’ in-house investment team.

‘With some, the IFAs had already established their own risk-rated models with different benchmarks but were just struggling with fund selection and time, so we are really just taking over the asset allocation. We also have clients who use fund of funds or DFMs but find it difficult to keep on top of what is going on, so we act as an intermediary between them and do the monthly reporting to ensure suitability.’

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