Last week punters braved the UK’s historic “Brexit” referendum vote, terrible rain, rail strikes, floods, and the European football championships, to attend the launch bash for Chambers & Partners’ first ever directory focused on the high net worth market.
Despite the subdued atmosphere on the night, the HNW guide is the boldest new product to come out the Chambers stable since Chambers Confidential (now known as Chambers Unpublished) came on to the scene around 10 years ago.
Of course, in the context of the broader economy, Chambers, nor the legal publishing industry, is exactly a hotbed of innovation, but in relative terms this feels like an exciting move for Chambers.
Notably, it is the first time that Chambers has, on any scale, rated and recommended professionals other than lawyers.
Companies that stray from their patch – Chambers has focused exclusively on the legal sector for 30 years – face huge risk, but Chambers has sidestepped into related areas of professional services like wealth managers, private banks, and accountants in a cautious but skillful manner.
At various points in the HNW directory, tax advisers, buying agents, estate agents, shipyards, trust companies, and yacht brokers, are also highlighted and rated.
Collectively these professional groups amount to some major new areas of territory for Chambers.
The hard copy of the guide follows the same format and style of other Chambers directories.
Colored purple, it is somewhat thinner than the larger, more established directories.
A nice touch is that all the Chambers staff are credited at the front, not just the senior team.
The first edition covers 35 countries, and the layout follows the familiar A to Z by country format, with some “global wide” sections at the front – private aircraft, yachts, shipyards, and ship brokers.
Within each country, the first rankings are those of the law firms recommended for serving the high net worth community.
Then, depending on the size and profile of the country, you have further rankings for private banks, wealth managers, and trust companies
After Chambers’ own editorial commentary for each country, there are profile-style advertisements for some of the featured firms and advisors, and the recommended individuals.
At the event itself, I met with high net worth editor Simon Christian (pictured, top) to ask him more about the new product.
LP: What led to this product? And why private client/wealth management?
SC: We had wanted to expand out of legal for a while, and it felt like the right time to do it. Private client was a strong choice as we had researched it for some years in the UK and US and had built up a lot of knowledge of the sector. We thought our research and business model would work well, as we could build on the contacts we had already made among the private client firms, and their clients, to expand into the related professional advisory areas. The different professional advisors in this space work well together, and know each other, so they were able to recommend further names to us quite easily. For example, we would speak to one client, and they would recommend a law firm, a bank, a wealth manager, an accountant – it was a very organic process.
LP: There are other specialist publications that cover some of these areas of wealth management – what sets the Chambers high net worth directory apart?
SC: We’re international, with coverage of 35 countries – so we have that “first mover” advantage internationally. In the US, we have a depth of coverage at state level. And we have a great brand, which is already well respected within the legal industry, and we think that will extend into the other areas of professional services.
LP: What are your future plans?
SC: This isn’t a one-off; the high net worth guide will become a regular annual thing. We’re committed to it. We will expand our coverage of the US at state level, with more states and greater depth within the states. We will also add new countries, and we plan to do much more on the adviser side. This was our first real attempt to cover non-lawyers, but we see lots of potential to go further.