In the UK there’s old money, really old money and then there’s C Hoare & Co.
The London firm was started in 1672 by Richard Hoare and has tended to the affairs of diarist Samuel Pepys, poet Lord Byron and novelist Jane Austen. That’s almost a hundred years older than the famous Rothschild dynasty, which was founded in the 1760s. After more than three centuries of continuous operation, the family still runs the show, overseeing about £4.4bn ($5.6bn) of deposits and sticking to a traditional way of doing business.
“You go in and you talk,” said Islay Robinson, chief executive officer of Enness, a mortgage broker with dozens of high-net-worth clients who have borrowed from the bank. “They lend their own money and tend to be able to come up with solutions that other banks can’t.”
The last of the 10th generation of partners retired last year, leaving the bank in the hands of six partners from the 11th generation who have continued its evolution. In March, they opened the first outpost outside London: a Cambridge office designed to serve existing clients but also attract entrepreneurs in a region known for bioscience and technology ventures.
Blending old with new has become vital for C Hoare, rival Coutts and smaller competitors such as Raphaels and Weatherbys as they vie to serve wealthy clients. Independent banks are also striving to reconcile their highly tailored services to an industry where the prevailing trends are consolidation and rising regulation.
C Hoare is certainly different. The firm is an unlimited liability partnership, meaning the personal assets of the partners are fair game for creditors. Since at least 1994, the dividend has been fixed at £50 per share or £6,000 total. That’s for a business with £26mn of profit in the 12 months through March 31, 2019.