Blog: Property investment – and private banking’s role

Blog: Property investment – and private banking’s role

Graeme Hartop

Graeme Hartop, chief executive at Edinburgh-based private bank Hampden & Co outlines the ways investors are currently looking at to minimise the impact of the new tax regime


Last week at our headquarters in Edinburgh, we brought together a collective of property experts to discuss the benefits of investing in the city’s residential property market.

Alongside Cullen Property, Lindsays and Johnston Smillie, attendees had the opportunity to hear about factors influencing investments and associated financial, legal and tax-related considerations.

Our seminar for clients proved timely, with the UK’s largest broadcaster reporting its own research on the same day, indicating that Edinburgh’s residential property market is booming, in part due to the Airbnb segment that has doubled over the last three years alone.

As Cullen Property’s Steve Coyle explained, Edinburgh’s reputation as a top UK property hotspot is driven by strong rental growth that saw an annual rental increase of 7.8 per cent last year. In no small part, this trend stems from a high demand for quality, centrally located property from increasingly affluent young professionals and the student market. Kenny McNeill from Johnston Smillie added that in spite of the significant changes to tax legislation over the last few years, the buy-to-let market continues to see high growth.

Our panel said its shared experiences out on the coalface suggest that investors are actively looking at ways to minimise the impact of the new tax regime, in many cases doing this by operating their rental portfolio via a limited company. As one of our banking directors, Graeme Morris, said at the event, “it’s important to nail both the strategy, and how to fund the strategy” when you are looking to build or extend a property portfolio.

The whole area of property investment is dealt with by our banking team on a daily basis at Hampden & Co and we recently completed an extensive UK-wide survey with Censuswide on the subject, the findings of which we are set to release in the coming weeks. The study tells us that a significant proportion of wealth is held in property by high-net-worth individuals in the UK but that there is a thicket to negotiate when it comes to the new property investment tax regime and possible Brexit impact.

Encouragingly, a spot poll carried out at our seminar showed a vast majority of attendees are planning to extend their property portfolios in the near future and are undeterred by Brexit uncertainty. What is more certain is that in order for property investors to take full advantage of the opportunities before them, they need good advice from a range of advisers. Integral to our approach at Hampden & Co is a desire to work alongside best-of-class advisers while sticking to our knitting in terms of offering pure banking services.

With 2018 representing our third full year of trading at the bank, our strategy centres on traditional banking relationships with our customers, offering the services they desire and providing a high-quality experience. The global standard for customer satisfaction, net promoter score (NPS), measures Hampden & Co at more than 70, and we want to maintain and, if possible, surpass this number in the years ahead.

We believe a thorough knowledge of our clients and their family, combined with tailored services, is how banking should be. We want to be there for our clients at every turn, an approach that has been lost in most quarters of the banking industry, most strikingly by the high-street banks.

We experienced good levels of growth in 2018 and we strengthened the banking team with key hires during the year, added new services such as fixed-rate lending and our digital banking launched in February.

We are planning for further growth in 2019, while targeting profitable scale over the next few years. We believe that the most successful businesses collaborate to great effect – and this approach will continue to underpin how Hampden & Co operates going forward.

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