You were Chairman of Coutts between 1999 and 2017. What attracted you to the company? What has changed over that time?
Anyone who knew anything about banks in the 1990s knew that Coutts had a supreme brand name. I had contact with Coutts before because I had some clients in my then bank that also banked at Coutts and had been greatly impressed. As I arrived, Coutts were embarking on “segmentation”, grouping the clients into categories depending on their time of life, profession etc. and over the years these groupings have been refined. In addition, Coutts has expanded both domestically and internationally. For instance, in 1999 we had only a handful of people in Singapore and Hong Kong; now there are over 330 in each centre.
How did you balance being Chairman of Coutts with your other roles?
Since I retired as a Trustee of the Grosvenor Estate, it has been easier to organise my workload, as Grosvenor was quite time consuming. The problem now revolves (or otherwise no longer) around the timetable of the House of Lords business and more particularly when votes for business, is often set weeks ahead whereas one doesn’t know what the House of Lords programme is until two or three weeks before sitting and one doesn’t know the casting of votes until the last minute.
Do you travel for Coutts?
My travel has reduced considerably since retiring from Grosvenor, Grosvenor had properties in Canada, the USA and Australia where Coutts do not have offices – which I visited regularly as former Chairman of the Grosvenor Group. Overseas visits are mostly to the Middle and Far East and Switzerland.
What has been the most rewarding time of your life?
The most rewarding time was naturally my private life with my wife and children. As far as my business is concerned, participating in investment bank Morgan Grenfell’s expansion in the 70’s and 80’s was fascinating and very satisfactory once business in the Middle and Far East had been established.
Were you in the media spotlight as a child when your father was Prime Minister?
My sisters and I were reported on a certain amount by newspapers when my father was in Government but the press was not intrusive in those days and mobile phones didn’t exist.
Coutts is a venerable name in banking. When did it all start?
Coutts was founded in 1692 but only came to prominence when the Bank acquired the Royal Family as clients in 1760.
Coutts & Co.
The bank which was to become Coutts & Co, was originally a goldsmith-bankers shop. It was formed in 1692 by a young Scots goldsmith-banker, John Campbell of Lundie, Scotland. He set up business in the Strand, London, under a sign of the Three Crowns, as was customary in the days before street numbers. Today, the Coutts logo still has the three crowns, and its headquarters is still on the Strand.
Coutts & Co. Is a London-headquartered private bank and wealth manager. Founded in 1692, it is the eighth oldest bank in the world. Today, Coutts forms part of Natwest Group’s wealth management division. In the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, Coutts Crown Dependencies operates as a trading name of The Royal Bank of Scotland.