To many in the expatriate financial services market, Meyado is a familiar name, as it dates back to 1993. This was right after Margaret Thatcher’s “Big Bang” de-regulated the UK’s financial markets, and four years before the handing over of Hong Kong to China, and the Asian financial crisis. It was some nine years before a Hong Kong-based British financial adviser named Nigel Green decided to launch an expat-focused advisory business he would call the deVere Group.
By the standards of expat-focused advisory firms, in other words, Meyado has been around a while.
Briton Martin Young, pictured, originally founded Meyado International in Frankfurt, where he had an idea of looking after some of the expat investment bankers working there. At the time, he was already working in that city, for a now-defunct Old Mutual ex-pat focused advisory operation known as Finexco.
That Frankfurt business, called Meyado International, today has more than 3,500 clients in Europe and the Middle East. There’s also a Singapore-based sister business, Meyado Private Wealth Asia, that has carved out its own reputation over the past sixteen-plus years. (Last week, as reported, it acquired one of its rivals in that market.)
But now, the UK-based arm of the company is taking centre stage, as it embarks on a new, mould-breaking chapter in Meyado corporate history, with fintech at its centre. And Young is vowing that his new fintech business model will make Meyado unlike any of its rivals, in either the Greater London/European marketplace or Southeast Asia.
| FACT BOX
Name: Meyado Private Wealth
Founded: 1993, in Frankfurt, Germany
Assets under advice: (N.A.)
No. of clients: 250, UK business only; 4,000 internationally
No. of advisers: 7 in UK, 10 in Asia, 3 internationally
No. of employees: (N.A.)
Head office, London, England; UK branch offices: Windsor, Birmingham and Essex, England.
Meyado Private Wealth Asia: Singapore; Manilla, Philippines.
Meyado International: Frankfurt
Name still under wraps
The UK company will continue to be known as Meyado Private Wealth Management London, but the new Fintech system will have its own branding, according to Young, which he says is due to be unveiled formally in the “next few weeks”.
“So I’m afraid I can’t tell you what it will be called today,” Young adds, apologetically, during an interview in a meeting room of Meyado’s Berkeley Square, London offices.
“But I can tell you that it is only going to be offered to our clients in Europe, and it’s a fintech offering that will be all about ‘making the complex simple’ for our clients.
“As far as the consumer is concerned, it will be more ‘fin’ than ‘tech’; but behind the scenes, in fact it is more ‘tech’ than ‘fin’.”
‘Unlimited access to funds, platforms’
The main feature that this new, as-yet-unnamed wealth management system will offer Meyado Wealth’s clients – which Young is adamant that no one else is, for now at least, giving theirs – will be “access to every single one of the 48,000 funds available throughout Europe, and every single one of the 66 platforms available, to every single client, very very quickly and efficiently”.
And it will do this, he adds, while charging annual management fees that will be more or less half what the UK’s top provider is currently charging – or “around 45 basis points to 1% a year”.
Young says the system has already been up and running for around 12 months, because the company wanted to work out any glitches before going public with it.
He declines to provide much in the way of detail about the particular “black box” system Meyado will be using, apart from the fact that it’s a combination of off-the-shelf technology rather than anything “proprietary”.
What is unique, he says, “is our way of looking at it”.
And the bottom line, Young stresses, is that Meyado is casting its vote squarely in favour of Fintech as the future for wealth management.
Among other things, this will enable it to offer its clients a “fully independent” approach to their wealth management, helped by Meyado’s well-qualified, UK-regulated advisers.
“Many people [in the industry] are just paying lip service to it [financial technology], using hand-held devices, computer modules, and so on,” he says forcefully – this is clearly a topic he is passionate about.
“But they’re only really looking at a very limited part of the market when they’re doing this, and frankly many of them are in fact actually ‘tied’ or at the very least ‘restricted’, they’re not offering the whole of the market, although the clients don’t know that.
“Words like ‘restricted’ don’t mean much to consumers, it’s all industry-speak, and they’re busy with their lives – they don’t have time to sit and listen to a financial adviser drone on about the meaning of industry-speak words on a weekend, when they’d far rather be doing something else.”
As with everything else about his plan, Young is in no doubt as to who, exactly, the clients for Meyado’s new fintech business will be.
As far back as 2002, he realised, Young says, that “there was no such thing as offshore anymore”, and that it would probably be a good idea to move towards offering “fully regulated investment advice” on a fee-only basis. So for some time, that has been the Meyado model.
For the new fintech offering, Meyado will be looking to cater “not to the HNWIs, or the top 1%, but to the segment just underneath that one, the executives, the bottom 4% of the top 5% [in terms of assets], if that makes sense,” Young says.
“It’s the ‘executive market’: Not HNW, but not the mainstream market either, roughly £250,000 to £750,000 in liquid, investible assets.”
And, curiously for a company that got its start looking after expatriates, Young says the new business will be “expat-agnostic”, focusing instead on people in the aforementioned demographic, whatever their nationality, who live in and around London and certain other European cities.
“At this new company we are creating, we don’t think of people as expatriates or non-expatriates; today, we have a joined-up world,” Young explains.
“Yes, there are French people here in the UK, and Germans, and other European and foreign nationalities. There are Americans. I’m British, I’m married to a Danish woman, my children are half Danish, half English.
“Very often here in London, I’m the only Brit in the room; sometimes I don’t even understand the language people are talking around me.
“So we’re not focusing on nationalities, we’re orientating ourselves around certain cities in which we see people who fit our demographic, beginning with London, Manchester and Birmingham.”
With this in mind, the company earlier this year named Robert Magee, formerly founder and owner of Herefordshire-based IFA Robert Magee & Associates, to head up its new Birmingham office. Magee previously sold his IFA firm to AFH Financial in 2013.
An office in Manchester is next on Young’s to-do list.
“We’re scaling up on it now – right now we’re looking for the individual who is going to be our Manchester person,” Young says.
“The UK government has said it wants to make Manchester its ‘Northern powerhouse’, and the BBC has been moving operations up there as well.
“So it seems a good place to establish ourselves, and a good time to do it.”
To read about Meyado Private Wealth Asia, and its own plans for expansion, go to page 2.
Meyado Private Wealth Asia: regional expansion seen
It’s a slightly awkward fact, for Meyado Private Wealth Asia head Mark Paine, that he’s the younger cousin of Meyado’s founder and group chairman, Martin Young.
But then, he did join Meyado back in 1993, just five months after Young launched it, and set up its now highly-successful Singapore operation in 1999.
For his part, Young has nothing but highly-complimentary things to say about Paine, pictured below, even though he admits that both he and his younger cousin “are probably a bit reluctant” to discuss the matter of their family relationship.
“This is not a family firm,” Young says firmly, “even though at one point I think I had three cousins and my twin sister working for it.
“But Mark is a great guy, and he’s done very well [for Meyado]. And when you can work with someone you know as well as you know a family member, with that level of trust, it’s just tremendous.”
Over time, Young’s London-based, Europe-focused business and Paine’s Singapore operation have grown apart, to become very distinct, separately-run entities, owing, Young says, to the very different regulatory and market environments in which they’re located.
This is why, for now, Paine’s operation isn’t yet adopting the fintech system that Young is introducing to his side of the business.
Instead, he is putting the finishing touches on the launch of a new office in Manila, in the Philippines, and working on plans for other new outposts in Asia, the locations of which, for now, he’s not ready to talk about.
“We’ve just hired our first two advisers for Manila, and an office manager,” Paine says, adding that the new operation is a “separate entity under the Meyado banner” rather than a branch operation of the Singapore business, which would be frowned on by the Singaporean regulator.
“We’re looking at other markets as well in Southeast Asia, but for now, that’s our big news.”
Like Young, Paine sees the future in fintech, especially with younger clients, who are more open to viewing their financial details and carrying out financial transactions online.
Still, he says, “there will always be a genuine need for human intervention as well.”