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Speaking to Campden Wealth, Rob Agnew, Partner & Head of Private Capital at Isio, reveals why the investment consultancy is well positioned to help ultra-high-net-worth families in matters of investment for the future…

In a nutshell, tell us about what you do at Isio Private Capital…
Isio was born out of the 2020 management buyout of KPMG UK’s Pension and Investment Practice. We are independent investment consultants, advising corporates, sovereign wealth, and local government. In recent years, we’ve established Isio Private Capital, leveraging our institutional heritage and investment capabilities to support families, charities and endowments. The firm employs around 1,200 people and can call on the expertise of 160 highly experienced investment consultants – of which 45 specialise in research across 11 sub asset classes. We help families understand what good looks like for them, designing strategy which is centered on the families’ priorities and the purpose of their capital – not the commercial objectives of banks and wealth managers.

What makes Isio Private Capital unique?
We don’t have any product! We are independent and take a whole of market approach, providing our clients with a wider opportunity set, from which we then select high conviction ideas within specialist asset classes and funds. Our firm is full of actuaries, chartered financial analysts, mathematicians, and engineers. And the fact that we have more than £300 billion of assets under advice gives us real institutional clout with asset managers globally. We have no complex, so we quite literally design what good looks like for each client from a blank piece of paper. It’s very hard to receive advice in the private client space, as it is really either discretionary management or advice is a sale driven process. In our view, what we typically see in the market is no longer fit for purpose. To find an unbiased and unconflicted view is very rare. That makes us unique and it’s why our proposition is proving very compelling with our clients.

What do your primary strategies cover?
Our primary strategy really is to fulfill the objectives our clients have. We look at everything using our intellectual and analytical in-house expertise. The lifeblood of the business has been advising clients about monitoring and deploying their assets and making sure they remain credible from the outset. We have filtered our universe to fit different sectors and asset classes with which we have preferred strategies and managers. We regularly engage and analyse them to make sure that remains true. We also have a RAG (red, amber, green) system focusing on who’s still performing as expected from an operational and investment diligence point of view. There often isn’t that depth in other organisations, but we believe it’s critical for fulfilling our clients’ objectives.

As an industry-leading firm specialising in pensions, benefits, wealth and investment services, how does what you do help ultra-high-net-worth families?
We have a genuinely fresh approach in that we never make assumptions. The way we look at investments and the client set is an exact correlation. People who have established wealth quite often want to know ‘Is what I have still doing what I need it to do?’ We can give an approach and a view on that. Sometimes there are better ways of doing things, there can be better managers and strategies that focus on performance, price, risk, skill set, sector etc. We are often asked to review existing long-term holdings and, because we have institutional access, last year we placed more than £17 billion of assets. We are allowing clients to directly invest on institutional terms with no overlay fees or friction, and we allow that to happen without any conflict or erosion of capital, which is a key value add that even long-standing capital benefits from.

Having weathered a difficult few years and facing uncertain times, what can UHNW families do to insulate themselves better financially for the future?
There are more places to invest than just equities and bonds, and it really comes back to the right solution for the objectives. There are better strategies and places to commit capital that don’t attract the same levels of volatility, which can avoid the upset or emotional rollercoaster. Sleeping well at night is a key priority when you have significant capital. We believe there are better places than public markets to enjoy the ride and the comfort that brings.

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Partner & Head of Private Capital See full profile

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