Bell Lawrie relies on getting to know its clients’ long- term needs to ensure it maximises their investment returns, writes Anthony Harrington
THE private client stockbroking firm, Bell Lawrie, can trace its origins back to the mid19thCentury as a founder firmof the Scottish Stock Exchange. The company has grown through a series of mergers, including becoming part of the Brewin Dolphin group in 1993, and is now part of a group employing 1,100 staff in 36 offices, with some £ 19bn of client funds under management.
As Alec Lyell, a director with Bell Lawrie’s Glasgow office points out, there are now so many different specialised investment oppor- tunities, and the financial world is so fast moving that clients really do benefit from putting day- to- day investment decisions into the hands of investment professionals. Bell Lawrie offers a range of services available either on a discretionary or advisory basis. With the latter, if clients prefer to take the majority of their own investment decisions, the firm can provide expert and personal investment advice, and will act on the client’s instructions.
However, the firm’s preference is for discretionary management, where, after detailed discussions with the investment manager, the choice of investments and daytoday transacting is in the hands of the client’s investment manager.
“ Our Discretionary Portfolio Management Service is rapidly becoming our most popular offering,” says Lyell. “ It leaves the client free to get on with their own day to day activities while we make all the investment decisions on their behalf, taking into account the client’s objectives.”
Crucially, discretionary management frees up the investment manager to act quickly to take advantage of opportunities that occur to maximise the return to the client.
Bell Lawrie’s considerable reputation for bespoke investment management has been built over many years. The group has a dedicated research team based in London and all the investment managers have access to the analysis provided by the research team.
The firm’s activities range from providing investment services to high net worth individuals, to running pension plans for companies and managing investments for trusts and charities.
“ We run a full consultative wealth management operation with a dedicated, qualified team, headed up by John Docherty. The team takes into account the total financial position of each client, including properties, pensions and inheritance tax. Planning for school and university fees is another important part of what we do,” he says.
Increasingly people want not just portfolio management services but the full range of financial planning. The firm also has a specialist investment trust operation and a specialist unit trust operation.
The Glasgow office includes a corporate broking service, which acts as adviser to some 55 plcs, on all matters pertaining to the Stock Exchange, earnings announcements and the like.
The corporate finance side is involved in floatations, mergers and acquisitions. Headed by Elizabeth Kennedy, the corporate finance team is particularly strong in theAIMmarket. Kennedy is on the London Stock Exchange AIM advisory group while her colleague, Jamie Cumming, is divisional director in charge of corporate broking.
“ Ours is very much a people and relationships business. One of the key strengths of the services we provide is the relationship with the client,” Lyell says.
“ The firm is a great supporter of Scottish youth rugby, sponsoring the Scottish Schools Cup and the Under- 15 Scottish Schools Cup. It works in partnership with ScottishRugby’s Thistle Rugby Trust to foster young people’s enjoyment of the sport and to encourage youngsters to take up the game. Through its sponsorship Bell Lawrie provides rugby kit for schools taking part in the competition.
The firm is also well known for the Bell Lawrie Scottish Series, the biggest annual yachting regatta inBritain after Cowes Week, with up to 200 yachts competing each year.
Bell Baxter winning this year’s Bell Lawrie Scottish Schools Cup