Business Leader recently spoke to Mark Lucas, Director and Head of Bristol office for Arbuthnot Latham, to find out how the Private and Commercial Banking group are helping people on their entrepreneurial journey.
How has the bank had to adapt in the last few months?
In terms of our day-to-day business operation, COVID-19 has not restricted us and service levels have remained high. We have robust procedures in place to make sure we’re always available to our clients.
Colleagues were provided with everything they needed to work effectively from home, clients with borrowing were contacted early on to offer support in the form of forbearance, and more latterly to highlight our involvement in the BBLS and CBILS schemes.
Despite the challenges and pressures we’ve all been facing, the bank and the Bristol office have remained in ‘growth mode’ over the last few months, with the welfare of clients and staff being a priority.
How did you achieve the level of growth you’ve had over the last few years?
Our regional offices (Bristol, Exeter and Manchester) have grown their collective book from £350m to £600m in three years with plans to get to £1bn in the next two years. We are all immensely proud of what we have achieved.
We continue to build the Bristol team with staff well known in the region. We’ve recruited experience and network, to allow us to fulfil the opportunities we are seeing.
The AL Our balance sheet is strong with excess liquidity and no borrowing from wholesale markets. As a result, we are in a strong position to continue to lend and react to opportunities in the months ahead.
What are the main challenges facing entrepreneurs and how can Arbuthnot Latham help?
Funding – we have experienced bankers and a proactive and understanding approach. This has been evidenced throughout the pandemic and it was great to be accepted onto the government support schemes.
Mortgage finance – annual income is often insufficient to satisfy less flexible serviceability requirements on larger sums. We have particular experience in this area and we spend time understanding the wider picture.
Opening private and commercial bank accounts – we understand that it is taking a long time to open new accounts, in particular commercial and Trust accounts, through some of the high street banks. We can open accounts quickly and as a result we are seeing an increasing number of new clients coming to us for help including IP’s and Solc’s.
Outgrowing existing advisors – we see this from time to time and the consequences can be costly. We can make introductions to our extensive network of professional contacts.
What wealth planning options can you give to entrepreneurs?
We look at the relationship between personal and business assets and structuring our clients’ affairs in the most tax efficient way. This has been topical over recent months with many clients and prospects wanting to focus on their personal affairs.
The pandemic has caused us all to reflect on important personal and family matters and to consider the ‘what if’ scenarios…for example, if something had happened to the main breadwinner where would that have left the family, the business etc. and what can be done to plan for such an eventuality – trustworthy wealth planning is a critical element of these reflections.
We work with many successful entrepreneurs and whilst being focused on creating an incredible business they often neglect their personal finances…we see this a lot.
We also work with our clients’ existing advisors to help develop and manage an appropriate wealth management strategy. Specific areas include protection, retirement planning, succession and IHT planning, exit planning, savings and investments.
What kind of client suits Arbuthnot Latham?
We offer private and commercial banking across a whole range of sectors, as well as wealth planning and investment management for clients looking to deposit, borrow or invest £500,000 or more. We know wealth is very dynamic and are careful not to draw too many lines in the sand.
So, by definition, high net worth individuals, often entrepreneurs, business owners or corporate execs, also trading companies, trusts, IP’s and Solc’s.