However, back then, the advice and distribution market was also changing and we became attracted to the independent sector, so it was subsequently decided it was the right time to build our own business and become IFAs. Our initial plan was to concentrate on London and the South East of England where we had previously worked for Schroders.
The next step was for the four of us to go to the bank and re-mortgage our houses up to the roof (literally) in an effort to raise sufficient money to set up and pay for a “Board of Trade Licence” and join the proposed new regulator FIMBRA. I recall we also had to buy four cars that looked smart enough to be seen in by clients, which was a bit of a problem as well.
Much has changed over the ensuing years and, taking into account a few stock market crashes, one global market meltdown, and constant and increasingly stringent regulatory changes, I am still here and appear to be in one piece.
A lot of transformations have also taken place within Blacktower over the years, which really started back in 1999 when the company restructured and I decided to take over what was to become Blacktower Financial Management Group. At that time, it consisted of BFM UK and its little, new co-sister company Blacktower Financial Management (International) Limited, which was not yet fully trading, but just an idea in development. The business plan was to build a boutique wealth management business operating from London into Portugal and possibly Spain.
Gibraltar Head Office was launched in 2003 when the Financial Services Commission granted us a local licence for the International Company. The idea was to introduce UK-style financial planning into the international market, concentrating only on the Ex-pat HNW pension and estate planning markets and really not working too hard – spending much more time on the golf course and sailing.
It became very apparent at an early stage that this business/leisure balance plan was not working out and the firm started to grow quickly and expand beyond the original intention. So, after further thought regarding business strategy and also taking into account that my golf skills remained dreadful, it seemed a good time to refocus on building the company and attempt to grow Blacktower into a significant force in the international financial planning market.
I think it would be fair to say that over the ensuing years, and in particular the last ten years, the Group has enjoyed a great deal of success both in terms of size and market presence. We have continued to expand across Europe with now some 15 country offices in place and we have also successfully gained a full Business Securities Licence in the Cayman Islands, allowing us to set our sights on the Caribbean and Latin American markets.
Our European Business now benefits from both MIFID and IMD licences and Blacktower’s UK business continues to grow its market presence in the post RDR world, within the UK´s rapidly changing financial services sector. With a strong Board of Directors in both the UK and Europe, I see this pattern continuing, allowing the Group to move from strength to strength.
I think that the last five years or so have been significant in terms of the company’s growth. Back in 2010, we discussed the idea of setting up an International IFA Network and subsequently, Nexus Global was born. In the early days, we deliberately held back on expanding this business, preferring to gain a better understanding of how we should provide this service offering and of course working together with our regulators, who were unfamiliar with this concept within the international market. Today, after a great deal of work by the BFMI Board, we are preparing to expand Nexus Global even further and on a more Global basis.
During this time, we have also seen the launch of our first UCIT IV Managed Portfolios, namely Nexus Solutions and Dynamic, which in turn are managed on our behalf by Quilter Cheviot, recently purchased by Old Mutual International. I believe this is unique to the Blacktower Group and we remain one of the only firms that can deliver such a service offering.
Today, these Portfolios form an integral part of our wealth management proposition and represent a significant step forward in the quality and security of the advice we deliver. We will be expanding this service during 2016 with the addition of an income fund.
So, after a 30-year ride, we are still here and going from strength to strength, aiming to become one of the most recognised and professionally respected International Wealth Management Advisers in the market place today. I know that the Blacktower Group´s Directors and I have this ambition firmly in place for the future.
I would like to sincerely thank everybody involved within the Blacktower Group for the great work they continue to do and of course our many industry friends and colleagues for their professional support over the years.
Lastly, but by no means least, a huge thank you to our numerous clients who continue to support us and value the services we provide, thank you for allowing us to work with you.
Exciting Times Ahead…….
With Kindest Regards