For online wealth-management company Nutmeg, a move to Vox Studios in Vauxhall was a deliberate attempt to set themselves apart from other, more conventional financial firms.
Tracy Sambrook, CFO, Nutmeg, explains: “We looked at different locations and one of the key considerations was that we were actually really anti going into the City, because that’s not really what we’re trying to be. We want to disrupt the industry, and if we joined the ranks in the City, we’re not really differentiating ourselves.”
Vox Studios: for companies doing something different
A former Marmite factory in SE11 is about as far removed as you can get from Threadneedle Street. In an area known for its nightclubs, its former Pleasure Gardens and the iconic MI6 building, Vox Studios is home to a diverse range of businesses. The perfect base for a company offering something a little outside the norm?
Tracy Sambrook thinks so. “We’ve got people from all sorts of backgrounds; we’re a real mix. We’re a tech business with financial-services experience. And what we’re trying to do is deliver something really different.”
n the last three or four months we’ve acquired 15 per cent of the ISA net flows in the marketplace and we’ve more than doubled in size in two years, and now have 75 staff.”
Tracy Sambrook, Nutmeg
That difference, according to Tracy, is simplifying and democratising the wealth-management industry.
“There’s a two-tier system in this country, almost, with people who – because of their professional or family background – know about wealth management, about investing,” she explains. “They know that one way of doing it is through an independent financial advisor and they know that you have to pay for that service. But there’s a huge percentage of the population who don’t know about it, or don’t feel comfortable, or don’t feel it’s “for them”. We want to offer a service to people who’d otherwise not have access to it.”
Nutmeg: providing something customers want
At Nutmeg the investment threshold starts as low as £500. Customers complete an online questionnaire about their goals and attitude to risk before their money is allocated, and can invest in a range of ways, through ISAs and Sipps. It’s obviously something the public has been waiting for, if Nutmeg’s figures are anything to go by. “In the last three or four months we’ve acquired 15 per cent of the ISA net flows in the marketplace,” says Tracy, “and we’ve more than doubled in size in two years, and now have 75 staff.”
Unlike the new breed of fully automated “robo-advisors” soon to launch, Nutmeg’s USP is that the funds are still managed by experts rather than machines. And although you might not be able to meet those experts face to face, social media offers the next best thing. “Twitter works really well for us. It helps us to update customers and we encourage our customer base to ask questions to Shaun, our CIO,” says Tracy.
“And Shaun does a monthly investment update video, which we send as a link to our customers, to let them know how their portfolios are doing, and what investment decisions we’re making and why. For those people who are less familiar with it, it can be reassuring to see that there’s still a human being making the decisions.”
How Nutmeg's office reflects their values
Nutmeg are all about doing away with the “opacity” that can dog the wealth-management industry. Everything is upfront and on show; the foyer of Nutmeg’s office even features a whiteboard, decorated with mugshots of every employee.
“We’re going to have everybody’s goals, and their three key priorities on there,” says Tracy. “The idea is that everyone can see how everyone’s priorities are interlinked, and so there’s real transparency, real engagement and a real understanding that we’re all stood behind consistent goals.”
For now, Nutmeg are focused on continued growth. Attracting and retaining quality staff is key to that, according to Tracy, and the new company HQ clearly plays a big part in creating the right culture and environment to encourage “employee engagement and commitment”.
“There’s always good comms about things that are going on in the building and we always share those with our team. We’re keen to encourage people to interact, we obviously use the facilities that are available, everybody uses the café to have meetings, the bike storage, the showers… It’s so much more than four walls and an office space.”
Vox Studios has undergone spectacular refurbishment, with over 65 new studios for New and Growing Companies. It boasts abundant natural light and stunning city skyline views just 350 metres from Vauxhall tube station. If you'd like to arrange a view of our available units, please don't hesitate to click here.
In addition, you can find many more features and comment on the business landscape for New and Growing Companies in London in our latest edition of HomeWork. Simply click here to download our second edition which focuses heavily on the role of connectivity in business growth.