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December 20, 2010 11:41 pm
Hoare Govett may be a shadow of its former self, nestled as it is in the embrace of the colossal Royal Bank of Scotland. But the corporate broker’s legacy lives on through a group of its alumni from the late 1980s and early 1990s who have gone on to dominate the top levels of the City’s broking houses.
Former Hoare Govett brokers include Nigel Mills, now chairman of corporate broking at Citigroup, Simon Bragg, chief executive of Oriel Securities, Mark Brown, chief executive of Collins Stewart, Neil Kirton, chief executive of Arbuthnot Securities, Tim Linacre, chief executive of Panmure Gordon, Alex Snow, chief executive of Evolution Group, Giles Fitzpatrick, president and head of equities at Canaccord Genuity, Glenn Poulter, head of equities at Oriel Securities and Hamish Dixon, head of securities at Altium. Most of them worked together at some point.
“We were just a really good team,” says Mr Bragg, who worked for Hoare Govett between 1989 and 1997. “We worked well together, and we worked for each other. That doesn’t happen at many places. I think we all learnt a lot from each other.”
Putting clients first was at the core of the company’s values, says Mr Linacre, who was at Hoare Govett between 1987 and 1992. “That’s a principle we all took away with us, and still abide by.”
Mr Fitzpatrick, there between 1986 and 2004, agrees: “If you ask any of us ‘are you still talking to clients yourself?’ the answer will be ‘yes’. It’s what we were trained to do.”
The man who shaped this group into the brokers they are today is Peter Meinertzhagen, one of the City’s most respected corporate brokers, who worked for Hoare Govett for more than 40 years, including several as its chairman.
“Peter is a brilliant stockbroker but, more importantly, he’s very fair-minded, keen on doing good business and not driven by money, unlike many in this industry,” says Mr Bragg.
He provided continuity and leadership as the company was passed from owner to owner. In 1986, California-based Security Pacific took control, but nevertheless allowed the stockbroker a great deal of independence, letting it flourish and go head-to-head with the likes of Cazenove, Warburg and Kleinwort Benson.
Some six years later, it was sold to ABN Amro as SecPac sought to focus on core business following the savings and loans crisis. Then in 2007, Hoare Govett became a part of Royal Bank of Scotland after it bought the Dutch bank.
Some of the old Hoare Govett principles were watered down over time as ABN Amro sought to grow to become a top-tier bank, says one of its former employees. Compromises were made, and the broker took on business that it might not have done as an independent outfit. Several senior brokers left to join rivals such as Citigroup.
Lately several ex-Hoare Govett employees have re-grouped at Oriel. Mr Meinertzhagen took on a non-executive directorship there this month, joining Oriel’s co-founder Mr Bragg, Mr Poulter, research head Eithne O’Leary, and analysts Mark Young and Brendan Wilders. “We are the new Hoare Govett,” jokes Mr Bragg.
Mr Meinertzhagen is pleased with what he calls the “regeneration of the City” as new broking houses have set up to take on established ones. Speaking of Oriel, he says he is “excited to see a new firm being built on the right grounds and doing well”.
Asked what was the X-factor that has helped Hoare Govett’s alumni go on to succeed elsewhere. Mr Linacre said: “It was just a group of very good, entrepreneurial and honest people who were taught really well and worked really hard.” And according to Mr Meinertzhagen: “They were taught how to behave in the markets.”
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