The future of wealth management, including evolving family offices, socially responsible investing and philanthropy were all key topics of discussion at Jersey Finance’s annual private wealth conference in London last week.

The fully subscribed event on 26 September at 8 Northumberland Avenue, hosted two lively panel sessions on wealth management and impact investment, as well as featuring journalist and broadcaster Andrew Marr as keynote speaker, and Matthew Syed – world-leading author, thinker and expert on high performance, talent and mindsets – as endnote speaker.

The first panel, ‘Globalisation of Wealth’ was moderated by Wendy Spires, Head of Research at Wealthbriefing, and included Jonathon Benton from Intelligent Sanctuary, Sally Edwards from Ogier, Astrid B. Owen from McDermott Will & Emery, and Jon Stevens from the Jersey Financial Services Commission. The panel talked about how family offices are seeking increased security and regulation, both of which are provided by a quality finance centre such as Jersey. It was also noted that as technology plays a larger part in the management of family offices from financial services and legal firms, there is an element of loss from the traditional human-to-human relationship that was built up with a client, leading to a lower understanding of the value of services given. A strong final message from the panel was regarding the risk of public beneficial ownership registers to the safety of high net worth families. Jonathan Benton confirmed that Jersey’s approach to beneficial ownership, where the right authorities have access to sensitive information only when needed, is the most sensible solution for these families.

The second panel, ‘The Evolution of Giving Back’, moderated by Laila Charlton-Meyrick from Tribe Impact Capital, covered the increasing variety of ways in which wealthy individuals are aligning their values with their wealth management. These included philanthropy, socially responsible investing, and impact investment, amongst others. Laila and her panellists – Sianne Haldane from Cancer Research UK, Catherine Grum from KPMG, and Aiden McAvinue from Smith & Williamson – talked about how wealth is not just economic, but that it also includes health, happiness and values. Laila underlined how money is just the vehicle used to reflect and apply these elements and the panellists discussed the practical measures which are currently being undertaken and advised upon in firms to ensure clients’ values are aligned with their investments. In particular, it was noted that investors and companies are working harder to not just address their active investments (where they purposefully align their values with investment), but also passive investments (where some ongoing investments might clash with their current values.)

Keynote speaker, Andrew Marr, focussed on the current political uncertainties in Westminster and Brexit, which is due to take place at the end of this month. He stressed his opinion that we are currently experiencing a ‘zombie parliament’ that is unable to pass legislation and that a general election before Christmas is very likely. Reflecting on how this uncertainty affects wealthy clients, he said that ultra-high net worth individuals are more mobile than ever, and so any uncertainties will force them to find a new jurisdiction that feels more stable. When discussing whether there is a risk of data manipulation on social media should we face a general election, Marr agreed there could be, but he predicted the strongest campaigns will be based on wit and character, as opposed to heavy investment into social media campaigns.

Matthew Syed addressed the conference as a strong endnote speaker with an inspirational talk about productivity and the diversity of ideas. He explained how a diverse team is much stronger than a team which consists of similar talent and solutions. Matthew also underlined the importance of never becoming complacent and always striving for improvement, in order to achieve excellence.

Joe Moynihan, CEO of Jersey Finance, who opened and closed the conference, commented afterwards, saying:

“I am thrilled that this year’s private wealth conference was such a success with a full house of professionals and a strong line up of speakers and panellists. We covered a broad range of topics and enjoyed several pertinent questions from the floor. Private wealth is vital to the finance industry and it’s clear that the sector is evolving rapidly in line with technological and cultural developments across the globe. By working together as professionals, our high net worth clients can rest assured that Jersey remains a safe, well-regulated and versatile choice for wealth management.”