Our history

Responsibility is in our DNA. From our origins as a family business in the 1700s to pioneering sustainable and ethical investing, we have always looked ahead to ensure we are creating long-term value, not just short-term profits.  

Our roots are found in Liverpool, the birthplace of Rathbones. Long before we became an investment manager, Rathbones was a timber merchant business established by the Rathbone family in the 1720s. Subsequent generations took the family business into shipping and overseas trade before moving into managing money at the beginning of the last century. 

The relationship between Rathbones and Liverpool is one of the threads connecting our past, present and future. Though we are now a UK-wide company with a London head office, Liverpool remains an important part of Rathbones. 

Our office there is an example of how our business continues to adapt and change. The historic Port of Liverpool Building on the waterfront is a reminder of our beginnings. The modern operations centre we have created within shows a business thinking ahead. 

While any company with a long history will have a complex story to tell, and not every choice in the past will have been the right one, we strive to live up to the best values of our predecessors. You can see the influence of our Quaker heritage in the importance we place on honesty, integrity and independence. We are very aware of the trust that our clients place in us. We strive to earn it by putting these values at the heart of our daily work.

Our commitment to ethics in business 

The Rathbone family also passed on their strong commitment to ethics in business and a belief in long-term thinking. These priorities are reflected in our emphasis on engaging with companies.  

Through active engagement, we use our voice to influence them towards better, more sustainable performance. 

Studies have shown that engagement with companies on ESG issues can lead to better investment outcomes. When combined with active voting, and set within a clear escalation framework, it can be a powerful force for positive change.

A public service tradition 

The Rathbone family believed in public service, contributing to the improvement of healthcare and education for the people of Liverpool. This tradition has also endured. Through our involvement in sport and education, we support the development of young people across the UK. Every year our employees raise substantial amounts of money for charity and contribute their time to a wide range of charitable and civic activities. 

These principles have served us well. They have remained constant as Rathbones has evolved from a family business into an independent FTSE 250 public company. Throughout our history, we’ve kept our focus on building relationships and providing a level of service that encourages our clients to recommend us to others. 

Building on the past 

As a forward-looking company, we are more interested in the years ahead than those gone by. However, we have found that remembering  where we have come from, and learning from the past, is a good way to achieve success in the future. 

Now, as the call for a more responsible future grows louder and more pressing, we’re rising to the challenge by offering new ways for our clients to invest responsibly.