Quilter Cheviot - Best Wealth Manager - Charities

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William Reid (pictured) is head of the Charities Team at Quilter Cheviot, managing GBP1.4 billion on behalf of 640 charities. The current team, comprising a central team of ten in London, and 12 regional charity offices, including offices in Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin and Jersey, has evolved through Quilter Cheviot's corporate merger past from its original outpost at Laing & Cruikshank.

The Quilter Cheviot team has won best wealth manager – charities and can through its corporate history claim that it has been helping charities since 1771. Reid explains that their administrative strength is crucial for charities. "When you survey the people who use you, administration is up there as the most important, almost before performance," he says.

"Another key is that our clients have direct access to the team rather than a barrier of relationship managers in the way. We three investment directors are fund managers and the first point of contact. People know they can ring us and ask what we've done and we know what we've done because we did it."

The firm represents a broad variety of charities. Roughly 30 per cent are represented by general grant makers and endowments who give money to anything from youth to education; 25 per cent are in the education sector, representing university colleges or schools or organisations trying to further education in the broader sense. 

After that, at about 18 per cent, comes religious activities with Quilter Cheviot representing a number of religious orders across the spectrum of religions. Finally, social care and development/culture and recreation accounts for about 17 per cent.

The sector famously has a number of restrictions on where it can invest. "A little under a quarter of our charities has some form of ethical policy which requires a restriction in investment," Reid explains. "Most common is no tobacco, but we also have restrictions on armaments, alcohol and, particularly in education, gambling."

"You have to put ethics first which can prove a challenge but nowadays where there is a requirement to be broadly diversified for everyone it isn't necessarily the challenge it used to be."

Reid explains that while one of his charities doesn't have much left to invest in after the ethical requirements have been fulfilled, he has to make the trustees aware of the implications of the restrictions.

"On some screens, Walmart in the US comes up as a firearms supplier because you can buy a hand gun there in the States. It has to be a workable policy and that the trustees understand their ethical policy for their charity," Reid says, citing the 1991 Bishop of Oxford's case that established the idea of socially responsible investing. "A charity running a care home might avoid alcohol and armaments but the residents in the care home might drink or be ex-military so the policy might not apply."

The large team of regional offices features all the different charity jurisdictions around the UK and in Ireland, giving the firm local expertise.

"If you walk into the Leicester or Birmingham office you will get the expertise and advice from the whole group," Reid says. "And a vast majority of members of the team at investment director level are themselves trustees or advisers to charities so also sit on the other side of the table."

Charities as a whole only receive 8-10 per cent of their income from investments, and while the overall level of income into charities has been consistent over the last five years, fundraising and donations have been declining.

"Individuals remain crucial but there are increased requirements for charities to produce impact reports on what affect the money will have – what difference does it make? What you are finding in today's philanthropists is that they want to understand better the causes of the problem they want to help.

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