Macquarie Group's New Zealand private wealth rebranded, locally-owned

Hobson Wealth Partners executive director Warren Couillault wants people to know who the business is.
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Hobson Wealth Partners executive director Warren Couillault wants people to know who the business is.

Macquarie Group's offices on Auckland's Shortland Street are the same as they always used to be, but also different.

In the last month or so, a new logo has gone up next to Macquarie's, greeting you as you exit the lift and again when you visit reception.

That new name was Hobson Wealth Partners, the rebranded, and now locally-owned, Macquarie New Zealand Private Wealth business, partially sold by the Australian financial sales group earlier this year.

Macquarie Group has retained a minority shareholding in Hobson Wealth Partners.
DAVID GRAY/REUTERS

Macquarie Group has retained a minority shareholding in Hobson Wealth Partners.

"The only thing that's changed is ownership," executive director Warren Couillault said.

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"The only thing is we've got a new name and a new brand that no one knows."

The brand was one Couillault, a former Fisher Funds portfolio manager, was obviously proud of, too, happily showing it off and explaining its meaning.

The "o" and the "e" on top of each other loosely resemble the stripes on the sleeve of Captain William Hobson, the first governor of New Zealand, after who the new business is named.

"That's a name that has some standing," Couillault said.

A lot of effort has clearly gone into the rebranding, which went live at the end of last month.

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But there was months of work before that, too.

Couillault started looking at Macquarie's New Zealand 15-year-old private wealth unit at the beginning of the year, before leading a buy-in by its employees in a deal announced in May.

Macquarie retained a minority stake and has a director, Matin Wight, on the board, but otherwise the business was locally owned and operated.

Couillault said Hobson was now, by happenstance, the only independently-owned pure retail wealth advisor in New Zealand.

"Given it's financial services that I know, people that I know, and an industry that's familiar, the opportunity stacked up.

"It's a people business, it's a New Zealand market not an Australian market, and local market conditions require local market responses."

From May to this month, Hobson has been working through formalising its continued relationship with Macquarie, as well as changing its infrastructure and moving accounting and finance in-house.

"The whole team is delighted, it went off without a glitch: amazing eh?

"You wouldn't read about it."

Macquarie's corporate finance, investment banking and institutional securities businesses are all still in the same office, and Hobson would still buy research from Macquarie.

But going independent was an important point of difference, Couillault said.

The new entity could respond to opportunities much quicker than when it might have had to go through levels of approval or to see if it fitted with Macquarie globally.

"I think New Zealanders like that: a New Zealand entity, independent, free-thinking approach and relationship, rather than big corporates.

"It doesn't mean we're cavalier."

Hobson has about 50 employees across Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and thousands of clients, but wanted to expand and introduce new revenue streams.

He would not talk about what that might look like, but said it would leverage its "great research foundation" for different people in different ways.

Making calls on what to do with money was a little less easier than three or four years ago, given a little bit of uncertainty in the market at the moment, but Couillault was confident.

"We're profitable, we've got plenty of capital, good people, access to the things we need from Macquarie Group.

"We're just reassuring our clients and then we need to reassure the market that when they see Hobson Wealth talked about, oh I know who that is."

 - Stuff

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