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SG Kleinwort Hambros Taps Into Its French Connection

Amanda Cheesley

17 April 2023

have launched a big UK-based team to offer private banking services and expertise for clients who have an interest in France and French-speaking Europe, as well as the wealthy French living in London. 

The newly-formed French Nexus team, led by Gwenolé Le Blevennec, comes in response to a growing interest in French and British property, assets and investment, the firm said in a statement.

Derek Hammond, head of private banking and commercial director at SG Kleinwort Hambros, told WealthBriefing that the share of foreign buyers in French property transactions increased in 2022, particularly in fashionable areas such as the Dordogne, which is up 3 per cent. 

“As well as providing expertise to UK HNW individuals looking to invest in French assets, there is also an increasing number of French nationals in the UK,” he added.

According to the Consulate General of France in the UK, an estimated 250,000 French nationals are living in the UK and 139,000 British citizens living in France.

The position of both types of client has become more complex in certain ways since the UK voted to quit the European Union in 2016. However, the proximity of the countries, economic links, the trend of UK citizens buying French properties, and French people working in the UK means that the market remains a significant one.

Hammond thinks there is a significant yet underserved market, and French Nexus will address this, targeting a wide base of investors with between £2 million ($2.5 million) and above £20 million.

“With an increasing amount of regulation and paperwork, clients need our advice and expertise when purchasing assets in France,” he said. “One British client, for instance, wanted to buy a vineyard in Bordeaux, but encountered several challenges in going about it. We stepped in to give advice,” he continued.

“Olivier Paccalin, deputy head of Société Générale private banking, added: “By addressing one of the largest private banking markets in the world, we will capitalise on growing interest in French and British property, assets and investment.”

In addition to private banking services and a market-leading proposition, the new French Nexus business, in partnership with Société Générale, can offer clients expertise on property, wine investments and vineyard banking, art, lifestyle interests and passion investing. Clients will also be able to receive verbal investment services in French or English as desired, the bank continued.

“Our objective is to help clients simplify their financial challenges by helping them manage their wealth and interests based between the UK, France and further abroad,” said Hammond. “As part of Société Générale Private Banking, we have brought together the very best people, expertise and service for our French Nexus clients.”

Le Blevennec has 26 years' experience of private banking and wealth management in London and in New York City, advising French and other international high and ultra-high net worth individuals and families. The French Nexus desk will also consist of a team of senior private bankers and two associates, including Jeremy de Lagarde, Laure Gazzolo, Jerome Giet, Jean Olivari, Cécile Viera and Jenny Willison.