Sandaire was established 20 years ago, built upon the foundations of the Scott family’s original business, Provincial Insurance, which was founded in 1903. When he founded that company, James Scott said ‘it will be nothing for me, but a good thing for my sons and a fine thing for my grandchildren’. Now, his great great and great great great grandchildren are owners of our businesses. How fortunate are we who are descended from such exceptional stewards and entrepreneurs?
Our objective on founding Sandaire was to provide the very best home for the proceeds of Provincial’s sale in 1996. We sold that business because the insurance sector was changing to our disadvantage; we needed to adapt and move on.
We wanted both enduring investment advice and an alignment of interest to enable us to be good stewards. Our vision was always to do this in conjunction with other families, entrepreneurs, foundations and individuals with similar aspirations.
We launched a new business in 1996 into the heart of the financial services sector at a time of ‘irrational exuberance’. Heady days! Stock markets on a tear, the newly invented internet changing everything… the FTSE100 peaked in 1999 and from the dot-com crash onwards we have had to navigate through stormy waters – a Global Financial Crisis and a resulting unusual or even artificial financial environment.
As Tom Stevenson of the Telegraph said when the index recently achieved the 1999 heights again: “If someone had told me on New Year’s Eve 1999 that I faced a wait of more than 15 years for the FTSE 100 to match that day’s closing price, I might have considered a different career path”. I bet some of us might feel similarly! From here, the 1990s look like a time when life was simpler, investing more straightforward; though I’m sure that’s not what it felt like then.
Looking back, it’s obvious that our new business was a start-up, with all the consequential risks and challenges. Our advantage was the support of my family and our advisers; 80 family members in total , who were united in supporting this initiative. We now number about 120 including spouses, so we ‘ve been busy over the intervening period! Start-ups require sacrifice, compromise and adaptation, utter determination and single mindedness.
Adam Wethered and William Drake know this all too well. They started their own business Lord North Street 16 years ago, and grew this to be a strong company of excellent reputation. We merged our businesses in 2014 and together we have much to be proud of. In amalgamating our businesses under one name, the business now delivers investment services to over 40 families and foundations in London and Singapore.
Now we’re well beyond start-up. We’ve moved from personality-based businesses to a professionally based reputation built upon executing our strategies. We are stronger and more resilient. We are not a game-changer with a startlingly new approach or product, like the headlined companies of our era, but we feel we have the capacity to be disruptive to the established players in the banking and administration sectors, and I think that’s exciting.
Throughout this, we have endeavoured to be true to our long-held family business values upon which our predecessors built a great company. After 20 years, all I can say about the future is that we will continue to do our best every day to deliver the best service and build the best business we can. But above all, our commitment to family ownership, with its capacity for longevity, far-sighted investment and stability remains firm.
We will bear in mind Charles Darwin’s observation: ‘it is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change’.
There have been many individuals who have been a part of the growth and evolution and success of Sandaire and I am delighted to share this celebration with you and also to thank you.