Entrepreneurs across the West Midlands are poised to help kick-start an economic upturn despite the slow pace of recovery from the depths of recession, says the Queen’s Bank.
Miles Plumb, Birmingham-based Director, Wealth Manager with Coutts, says many risk-takers are optimistic of an upturn from the worst ravages of the 2008-09 recession.
And he revealed that many entrepreneurial clients aiming to grow rarely had retirement in their sights – with the pursuit of riches often secondary to their latest business plans.
The Coutts executive said: “Our client base and our targeted clients are successful people, with a diverse range of business activities. People often associate them with the landed gentry, but the majority are entrepreneurs.
“You look after interesting people – everybody has a story to tell. I have clients who are close to 90 while some are successful entrepreneurs in their early 20s. There are a lot of young entrepreneurs out there.
“The majority of clients may have been through a difficult time but they have held their own. Some have started their business in the last few years so they have not known anything different.
“They did what they needed to do when the recession hit – they acted quickly and they made changes to their business models. Now we are starting to come out of the recession and there is a definite air of confidence. People are keen to borrow and there are lots of opportunities for people who are keen to invest – I think that Joe Public is much more knowledgeable than they were previously. The clients we deal with are positive by nature. The UK economy may be bumping along the bottom but there are still opportunities out there and the entrepreneurs in this area are looking for opportunities.
“The people I speak with who run manufacturing businesses, for example, see opportunities. There is a lot of export, developing new technologies etc going on.
“I rarely sit down with a client who tells me how bad things are. In the depths of the recession, we kept in touch with our clients and even in those depths, I think that a lot them accepted that you had to have the bad with the good.
“I think that 2008 was exceptional, but most of them took it on the chin, and worked they way through it. They battened down the hatches, did what they had to do and got through it. If I am reflecting clients, I would say that there is a lot of optimism.”
Mr Plumb said retirement was rarely a priority for Coutts clients. “Whenever I ask my clients, nine times out of 10 the answer I get is ‘what’s retirement?’
“They have no interest in retirement – they just carry on. They love creating things, money becomes secondary to them after a while.”
He said expansion plans for Coutts in Birmingham were on the horizon – and stressed that banks were willing to lend.
“We lend personally, and we are lending at the moment. Talking to colleagues, they are keen to lend, and they have the cash to lend, but they are careful to make good business decisions; propositions are looked at more carefully.
“We have moved here (premises in Church Street) because we needed more floorspace.
“In the long term, we want the capacity to grow. We want to make sure that we are well positioned to take advantage of the wealth in this area.
“We have the ability to grow in size over the next few years and that is what we are looking to do.”
The private bank’s Birmingham office has around 2,000 clients, and a 25-strong workforce.