He first moved to the country in 2001. He had been working for the UK arm of international financial planning firm Towy Law but pressed the head of the company’s global division to open up an office in Switzerland, which they did.
By 2003, cascading markets resulting from the Gulf War led Towry’s parent company Australia Mutual Provident to relinquish its holding, resulting in the office’s closure. Despite this, Marriott decided to remain in Switzerland, as it had been his dream and his family had settled there.
He created Blackden Financial in Geneva, with a view to giving English-speaking expats living in the country financial advice.
Fast forward to 2015, and the company now has six employees, including five advisers, and total assets under management of chf45m ($46m).
Expats and inpats
Within the resident English-speaking community in Switzerland, Blackden’s clients split into two groups: those who have to live in Switzerland to work, the expats, and those who have come to the country to retire or, as Marriott describes them, “inpats”.
Typically, clients have investible assets of between chf250,000 and chf750,000, although this can vary greatly, with some coming in lower and many coming in higher.
Regardless, they usually fall outside the remit of Switzerland’s large concentration of private banks.
The company looks to mirror the advice model followed by many UK IFAs, focusing on using a holistic, report- based approach.
Marriott’s knowledge of the UK’s advice market stems from his stint at a UK IFA for 10 years, where he says he learnt that clients primarily seek transparency, clarity, impartiality and flexibility.
“We try to understand our clients’ overall goals, and take care of their money as if it were our own,” he says.