Wealth advisers look to make a mint up north by cashing in on the rise of the region’s ultra-rich

Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire, England
Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire, England

When Real Housewives of Cheshire star Tanya Bardsley launched a boutique selling positive energy spray (£35) and gratitude pebbles (£5) in the wealthy neighbourhood of Wilmslow earlier this year, she had no idea that within two weeks every single item in her shop – six months worth of stock – would be sold out.

“People were trying to buy everything, even pictures hanging on the wall,” the reality TV star recalls. “Cheshire is very often about having something that no one else has.”

It is no secret that the so-called “Golden Triangle” – the villages of Wilmslow, Alderley Edge and Prestbury – have long been among the most affluent areas in Britain (ITV originally wanted to do its Real Housewives series in London’s Knightsbridge, but swapped that idea for Cheshire because the houses are bigger).

Wealth, spending and house prices in the region are climbing rapidly and Manchester is expected to double the number of its high-net-worth individuals (with assets of more than $1m) by 2026, beating the 30pc growth forecast for London, according to New World Wealth.

“Cheshire is very often about having something that no one else has,” says Real Housewives of Cheshire star Tanya Bardsley Credit: WENN

No surprise, then, that business this year is booming. Hair salon owner Tatiana Karelina has seen her Manchester branch take treble the bookings since 2015, and in September Lloyds decided to put its “most ambitious” and most costly bank branch in Manchester, pumping £3m into an outlet that now has a coffee shop and “breakout” pods.

It suggests that former chancellor George Osborne’s “northern powerhouse” project, launched in 2014 with the aim of closing the North-South gap, is paying off. And that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the wealth managers and financial advisers growing increasingly concerned that London, a honey pot for overseas talent and wealth, will lose its sweetness after Brexit. These firms are not just looking to cash in on the rising number of millionaires in Manchester, but the ultra-rich across northern England as a whole.  

Anyone who has met a Yorkshire businessman, a Cumbrian farmer or a Midlands industrialist will recognise this powerful local identity

“Brexit has supported the export industry [because of the weaker pound] and a lot of that exporting is coming from the North,” says David Durlacher, the boss of Julius Baer International – a Swiss private bank which only accepts customers with at least £2m of assets and is opening offices in Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow in January.

“It became a no-brainer for us,” Durlacher says of the decision to expand in those areas. “The opportunities outside London and the South-east have always been there but the growth outside London has become quite marked in the past few years. The number of millionaires in the North West and Yorkshire has grown 10pc year-on-year and outpaced national growth rates.”

Alex Ferguson, the manager of Manchester United, is among the wealthy residents of Wilmslow, Cheshire

Mayfair-based wealth manager Tilney, which opened an office in Newcastle in January, sees similar opportunities in the future. Cities such as Newcastle have transformed in recent years, and people are returning from London for the shorter commutes, cheaper properties and proximity to the countryside. Even the graduates of Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham universities are more likely than most others to become millionaires, according to a recent ranking of “millionaire making” universities by GlobalData WealthInsight.

“There’s no two ways about it, wealth is definitely increasing in the North East,” says Tilney’s Newcastle head David Smith.

Some are trying to tap into this growth quickly by snapping up local firms. David Esfandi, the chief executive of Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management, said his firm acquired Blackpool-based Hargreave Hale earlier this year to boost its footprint in the regions.

“We do recognise that wealth and prosperity throughout the UK are not just concentrated in the South East and there are many affluent locations in the North,” he said of the move. “Anyone who has met a Yorkshire businessman, a Cumbrian farmer or a Midlands industrialist will recognise this powerful local identity.”

Wealth managers and financial advisers are growing increasingly concerned that London, a honeypot for overseas talent and wealth, will lose its sweetness after Brexit while the north will thrive. 

However, it is not just wealth managers who are looking to bulk-up in the regions. Private equity firms have been targeting buyouts in the North as investors hope to profit from the Government’s plans to turn the region into an economic powerhouse.

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) last week completed its 100th deal after Manchester University spin-off Microbiosensor, which creates monitors that alert customers to infections, secured £700,000 worth of financing through Maven Capital Partners’ NPIF.

“We are seeing a number of companies from the very large to small start-ups choose to base themselves in the North,” said Maven investment director Ryan Bevington.

The government is also under pressure to release more money and reiterate its interest in investing in the regions now that Osborne has left, and financial services firms will be watching their moves closely.

“Brexit will hit the South a lot harder than it will hit the North,” warned Tilney’s Smith, adding that he is trying to grow the Newcastle office as quickly as possible.