Reyl Bank opens a London office to tap international clientele
Swiss bank Reyl & Co has opened a London office in St James’ Square, Mayfair, its latest move to position its network to service high net worth clients globally.
The office will start with three staff, but expects to hire up to 20 in coming years and to double assets under management in two years, then hit £500m in three to five years.
“For a rapidly expanding bank like our own, with a strong international component, the ability to operate out of London is now essential,” says Ladislas Safyurtlu, managing partner of the new UK subsidiary, Reyl & Co (UK) LLP.
“Not only is London a major wealth management and investment fund hub, but also a global business and financial centre. The British capital is a true gateway to Asia, the Middle East, Russia and the United States and, as such, it is very attractive to our clients. If London is a true gateway for them, it must be so for us as well.”
Reyl & Co’s first office abroad was in Paris in 2004. This was followed by the establishment of Reyl Private Office in Luxembourg in 2009. In 2010, the group set up a subsidiary in Singapore and, in 2011, increased its presence in Asia through a joint venture in Hong Kong with the Samena Capital group.
Reyl & Co then created Reyl Overseas, a Zurich-based company registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, responding to the needs of US taxpayers living in Switzerland and abroad.
Reyl & Co comprises three lines of business: wealth management, within bank Reyl & Co, asset management, through a range of long-only and alternative funds, managed by Reyl Asset Management and private office services offered by Reyl Private Office.
“Our efforts in London will initially focus on wealth management activity,” continues François Reyl (pictured), CEO of the REYL Group. “We will focus on providing services to a diverse, international, high-net-worth client base. Reyl London will become a showcase for all of the Group’s activities, from the distribution of our investment fund range, managed by Reyl Asset Management, to our private office services, led by Reyl Private Office, and our investment banking activities.”
Reyl & Co. (UK) LLP is also an appointed representative of Mirabella Financial Services LLP, authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
The group has enjoyed significant growth in recent years, growing assets under management by 500% in the last four years. François Reyl believes that is partly to do with the holistic service offered.
“There is not sufficient value for our kind of client in portfolio management only,” he explained. “This is a sophisticated, entrepreneurial international clientele with a diversified business mix, many from emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.”
“You could say there is a blurring of the lines between these high net worth and institutional-type clients. We have to be in London because the emerging world does business in London. This city has played its cards right.”
He noted that while clients may also use local banks and asset managers, they are acutely sensitive to the need to diversify their asset base internationally.
While the death of mid-sized asset and wealth managers has often been predicted, Reyl said that in current markets, midsized firms had the advantage of sufficient scale and track record (unlike start-ups), but were not weighed down by the corporate structures of “slow-moving” global banks.
“We are offering an original, fresh and dynamic value proposition,” he said. It appeals particularly to second generation high net worth clients, where research indicates “some instability in established relationships”, and to the energetic approach of entrepreneurs from high growth markets.
He added that the group also picks up business which larger rivals fail to hold.
“For example, there is a very large population of US tax-compliant clients across Europe which is underserved, even fled from, by other firms,” notes Reyl.
He said the provisions of new regulation like Fatca were just part of doing business. “It imposes an affiliation to rules dictated by the US IRS (Internal Revenue Service), and yes, it is a nuclear weapon of regulation. But the direction of history for the industry is onshore, and ever greater transparency.”
Reyl’s Asset management business comprises a compact rage of equity and fixed income funds, both long-only and long-short, but there are no plans to rush out new products. “We don’t want or need funds for the sake of it,” says Reyl. “We are a high alpha, niche player, and we backtest any product to ensure we can add value.”
However there are areas and themes of increasing interest – including emerging markets, water, luxury brands, the resurgence of US real estate and commodities.
He notes that Russia, long regarded as challenging from a private banking point of view, is now a maturing market, and there are more opportunities available to foreign investors in construction, shipbuilding, contracting, food and telecoms.
Africa is some years behind that, but is catching up fast with the emergence of an aspiring middle class, as well as its base of commodity wealth. “The rise of some private equity funds in Africa is very impressive,” adds Reyl. “There are some extremely talented people operating in the region.”