Investment Week's Lauren Mason speaks to Nick Tucker, who became CEO of Waverton in February this year, about what attracted him to the firm, how the team has coped during the pandemic, and what his future plans are for the business.
What was your background before joining Waverton?
My first job was working for Fidelity Investments with their US business but helping them set up their discount brokerage business in London.
I did for a relatively short period of time, then the October 1987 the crash happened. Luckily enough for me, it was in the days where Fidelity had only just set up their email systems and my boss didn't know how to use email, so I did it for him. So, I knew before he did that we were going to shut the London office down, which gave me time to find another role.
Using my US experience, I started working immediately for Merrill Lynch in their London office, predominantly with Middle Eastern clients and merchants. I partnered with my colleague John Morris and we built a client base predominantly of merchant families based in Jeddah, and ended up moving out to Dubai in the early 1990s to work from Merrill Lynch's office there.
After working here for several years, then in the firm's Sydney office for another year, I returned to the London office for family reasons.
After after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, it became clear the company's UK business had become less strategically important to them, so I spent several years at UBS taking over its domestic business - its assets had more than halved during the crisis, so I spent nine years there rebuilding the company, generating revenue and introducing financial planning and wealth planning.
Why did you decide to move to Waverton?
I left in February last year because I felt that I had taken the business as far as I could. I had a really strong team there with good management, and UBS was a great brand, but I wanted a new challenge.
I actually wrote a list of all of the traits I wanted at my new firm; I really wanted to go somewhere that had what I call a ‘secret sauce', something that makes it unique.
Number one, I wanted to work somewhere with really great people, because ultimately, you spend 12 hours per day with your colleagues. I also wanted to go somewhere where I had complete autonomy, and to go to a business that had ambition and where my skillset could really make a difference.
Waverton ticked all the boxes in this sense. It is one of the few firms in the investment management space that still populates all of its portfolios with individual securities as opposed to funds, too, which means the products are cost effective and nimble.
When you first joined Waverton, what were your plans for the business?
What I wanted to do during my first 100 days as CEO - although it ended up being during the first 30 days - was to really get to know the people and to listen to them.
I organised hour-long one-on-one meetings with as many members of staff as I could before the pandemic struck.
Some of it was confirmation of what I already knew about the process and the quality of the people. It was a big sea change from working in large banks, as the bond between the people and the company frankly dissipates in many of these places, but you could clearly see people coming into the Waverton offices in the morning with a spring in their step.
What was interesting for me to hear about was firstly the sophistication of the offering, and also the amount of emerging talent across the business - whether it was in the central investment team, the private client portfolio managers, or on the business side.