Rathbones was officially founded in 1742, although the family origins of the firm go back to the 1600s. The firm started out as a sawing business in a Liverpool timber yard. Once an established merchant, a number of the Rathbones family members devoted their passion to social justice and philanthropic movements. They campaigned in a number of revolutionary movements including backing the abolition of the slave trade and campaigning for the provision of nursing to the poor, as well as female suffrage.
From its beginnings as a simple wood sawing business, Rathbones became progressively a timber merchant, a shipbuilder, a general merchant, a commodity dealer, a manager of family funds and then a wealth manager in its own right. The persistence of good traits through successive generations is as central to Rathbones’ success story as its ability to adapt to change. Built on a history of philanthropy, it is still the values of heritage, stability, stewardship and trust that inspire the company today.
Rathbones is currently listed on the London Stock Exchange, being quoted on the FTSE 250 with a market capitalization of c. £1bn. Almost every current member of staff owns shares in the company and staff are the biggest shareholder in the business with c.10% of the shares of the company overall. This helps to align individual interests with the long-term health of the company and reinforces board accountability. We are not beholden to any larger ‘parent’ organisation. Staff turnover is low by industry standards.
Rathbones currently operates from 15 offices throughout the UK with around 1,500 staff in total. Our core business is investment management, although we have a banking licence.
Rathbones is a financially solid and stable firm. As a bank, our loan to deposit ratio is very conservative and our leverage ratio is well in excess of regulatory requirements. Additionally, as a bank we are subject to a greater degree of capital planning and stress testing than a pure asset management firm.
At 30 June 2020, Rathbones had £49.4bn of assets under management, £6bn of this is managed for charities and not-for-profit organisations making Rathbones the fourth largest manager of charity assets in the UK overall.
We are authorised and regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority and also separately regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Our investment philosophy and process creates a strong yet flexible framework for our investment professionals to share ideas and challenge each other’s views. It’s constantly evolving, and we continue to invest in the resources required to ensure it remains robust.
We believe a long-term investment strategy incorporating an asset allocation framework is the key to providing consistent risk-adjusted returns. As a result, strategic and tactical asset allocation decisions are the basis for all portfolios and funds we manage.
We use quantitative and qualitative inputs to guide our strategic asset allocation decisions, combining in-house research and analysis with insights from specialist UK and overseas third-party strategists. This enables us to develop long-term strategic asset allocation positions and tactical and thematic ideas to capture specific opportunities.
Our approach recognises that assets behave differently in different market conditions. By dividing asset classes into three distinct categories through our LED framework (liquidity, equity-type risk and diversifiers) we are better able to control and manage risk.
Our LED investment framework supports a forward-looking approach to strategic asset allocation. It’s a unique way of reducing real risk in investment portfolios. Since 2009, we’ve divided up the various investable asset classes into three distinct categories:
‘Liquidity’ - easily tradable, secure investments such as government bonds, high quality corporate bonds and cash. These should have low levels of volatility, at least in comparison to other asset classes, and should be readily realisable even during periods of market stress. The weighting will, to a material extent, reflect your risk tolerance.
‘Equity Risk’ – assets that can drive growth which are highly correlated with, or sensitive to, the economic cycle and investor sentiment. Investments such as UK and overseas equities plus higher yielding corporate bonds are good examples. These investments should, given their more volatile and risky nature, generate the bulk of the longer-term returns of the portfolio.
‘Diversifiers’ – assets that should in theory be relatively uncorrelated to the economic cycle and aim to generate returns independent of economic and market conditions. This portion should provide further diversification vs. equities and bonds and therefore reduce the portfolio’s overall risk profile.
Key to our approach is ensuring that we combine these different categories of investments (Liquidity, Equity Risk and Diversifiers) to meet a charity’s objectives. Relative weightings will vary as different opportunities or risks arise, or if a charity’s requirements change.