Market Leaders Pick Their Market Leader: Which stockbroker is a sound investment?

Interviews,Sally Chatterton,Sonia Damle
Saturday 22 October 2011 23:21

Jeff Plowman

Chief Executive


I THOROUGHLY enjoy the pace of change the broking industry offers both in terms of changing technologies and the pubic view of share dealing . Delivery mechanisms such as the Internet, mobile phones and interactive television will mean that eventually we will have a completely different way of delivering our service. The other change is that now the public perceives share-dealing as a form of saving.

Ours is still a very immature market. I've been in the industry all my life and have never been so enthusiastic about it. There are more people involved in it and, as a result, the industry and market are more active. Many of the services we offer will become similar to those offered by any other company so we have to be innovative to stand out. We have to not just keep up with changes but also pioneer them. In the industry, I admire the way Brewin Dolphin is structuring itself.

Jane Platt

Chief Executive

Barclays Stockbrokers Ltd

I ENJOY the challenge of leading a diversified investment management company at a time of immense change. Individuals are taking more responsibility for their financial welfare and we can be at the forefront of doing away with the mystery of financial services by clearer pricing and more innovative prices.

To succeed in this industry you need vision, persistence, integrity and humility. You can always learn from clients and indeed from competitors. The industry has changed tremendously over the years. It used to be a fuddy-duddy industry based on old-style partnerships which tended to put partners first and clients second. Today the customer is absolutely at the centre of market leaders' thoughts and we offer much better choice and much better value for money. Still, there is a lot to do. I greatly admire Steve Shirley, the female founder of the FI Group. All of her employees are people who have returned from maternity leave. She proves that British women can start and run very successful, caring, companies.

Giles Vardey

Chief Executive

Greig Middleton

OURS IS an extremely fast-changing market place, so there is never one definitive magic solution as to how to run a company within it. We deal with ordinary people so it's important to dispel the idea of stockbrokers being remote. These days, running a business is all about personal service. You have to be energetic and naturally inquisitive to get ahead. You always need to be thinking of the markets and your clients' needs. It is certainly not an industry for shrinking violets. The traditional stockbroker was not necessarily the best and brightest because the meet and greet ability was always more important. But this is changing rapidly. These days, you need people who are smart and people who can also build the long-term relationships with clients.

I admire those firms that have maintained traditional swanlike qualities. They seem to glide effortlessly across the pond, but in fact are paddling furiously. Companies such as Rathbones, whose chief executive is Roy Morris. They have built themselves up using the same qualities we have.

Roy Morris

Group Chief Executive


WITH THE introduction of technology, the 24-hour market has grown. Now you are finding more people investing in places like Japan and the Philippines. New markets are coming into play every day with the Internet. It is marvellous to think you can be sitting anywhere in the world and yet be kept up to date with prices. I always look to my competitors when asked whom I respect. People who are running successful businesses such as Mike Burns of DWD and John Hall of Brewin Dolphin. I like the way they've set up their companies.

Allan Collins



I HAVE been a private client broker for more than 30 years and the major impact over that time, has to be the computer. On the downside, it was responsible for the demise of the trading floor. On the upside, the impact on the speed of dealing and of settling transactions, and the speed of distribution of information has transformed the business. Now the computer is opening up the market to the private investor via the Internet.

The successful broker these days has to embrace all of this technology, but at the same time still sit down with a client and offer the old-fashioned "tea and sympathy" service. There is an army of new investors out there who still need to be able to talk to a broker who will guide them through the complexities of the modem market.

Whom do I admire most? My partner, Keith Loudon, who has spent all of his broking years successfully breaking down the barriers and taking the stock market to the small investor. Outside Redmayne-Bentley I'd single out Justin Urquhart-Stewart of Barclays - the industry needs more people who can talk about the market in plain and simple language - and do it with a bit of dash and colour.

Jeremy Delmar-Morgan

Chief Executive

Tether & Greenwood

IN OUR business, your assets are your people. You have to get on with people, both clients and staff and you must understand them and their needs. Obviously you have to appreciate risk and you should have the foresight to see which areas you should develop into. You've got to respect Cazenove. Rathbones too, currently under the aegis of Roy Morris, is an interesting company which has grown rapidly.

Michael Sunderland

Chief Executive

Walker Crips Weddlebeck

TO BE a decent private client stockbroker, you need to be deeply interested in the needs of the individual investor. You must be able to understand risk and appropriately advise your client in the light of that knowledge. There is day-to-day change in technology in our industry so you have to keep clued up on that side of things and the possible application of the changes to your own business. Redmayne-Bentley have several Investors Chronicle awards and these are worth due note. They have also achieved a great deal in terms of service to the private customer.

Bob Duste


Charles Schwab Europe

THE WHOLE idea of individuals investing in business and being able to share in the success of a business is a fabulous way for people to achieve financial independence and prepare for the later years of their life. I am an avid investor myself and have been infected by Charles Schwab's enthusiasm for stocks. The stock market has changed over the years from being a private, insiders' game to one anyone can dabble in. The one guy I really admire in the industry is Chuck Schwab who is based in the States. He is known for his passion, integrity and transparency to investors. He removed the shroud from investing.

Matthew Orr

Managing Partner

Killik & Co

WE ARE aiming to popularise share dealing by opening local, drop-in agencies. This allows the broker to have a local "patch". They grow into this and become part of the local community. This is our attempt to demystify stockbroking. It is not just for the wealthy. Empathy is something I think any good adviser needs, as is engendering trust. You mustn't take your client relationship for granted. You have to think - what can the client get out of this. We are arrogant in our niche and there aren't many competing with us at the moment. The Americans concern me most as they're more developed than us in their thinking, Merrill Lynch is the perfect example.

Shaun Pratley

Chief Operations Officer

DLJ Direct

THE BROKERAGE service industry is changing so rapidly these days that you need to be able to adapt to change. Certainly the qualifications I took when in my 20s are of little use now. You have to be flexible, adaptable and accept that industry is changing. Charles Schwab is an example of such flexibility. About 25 years ago he had small office. He took on the industry in US and came out victorious. In this country, Brian Winterflood of Winterfloods is an impressive retail service provider. He hasn't followed the crowd but he knows the market place.

Chris Ring

Managing Director

Natwest Stockbrokers

OURS IS no longer seen to be a closed market - people are more aware of what is available and what to do with their funds. I enjoy the challenge of having to keep at the forefront of this business. To keep at the forefront, you need the ability to adapt to the constantly changing markets and evolving customer needs. People are no longer looking simply for a brand but also for good quality service. I admire of Dealwise as someone who has built up his business from next to nothing to become a big player.

Interviews by Sally Chatterton and Sonia Damle

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