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C. Hoare and Co., a British banking dynasty in business for more than 300 years (bloomberg.com)
169 points by artsandsci on July 9, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 91 comments

If you're ever in the south west of England, you can visit Stourhead, their incredible country estate with huge landscaped gardens surrounding a lake, dotted with Palladian follies. It's now one of the flagship properties of the National Trust: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead

While the house and grounds are certainly the main attraction (and I'd highly recommend them), Stourhead has a good little museum about the Hoares too.

I wonder if legendary computer scientist Tony Hoare (C. A. R. Hoare) was part of the family, especially given his three given names.

He appears to be a distant relative, yes, but by my count, five generations removed from any direct connection to the banking business.

Starting with his entry [1] on thepeerage.com, a UK genealogical site for the upper classes, you can backtrack to find that his great-great grandfather was a Charles James Hoare [2], who appears, if this Wikipedia entry is the same person [3], to have been a a Church of England clergyman and himself the son of a partner in the Hoare private bank. So, C.A.R. Hoare's great-great-great grandfather was part of the bank. The four generations in between seem to have been various kinds of upper-middle class government or quasi-government employees though: clergyman, clergyman, military officer, and colonial civil servant.

Incidentally, I got the pointer to thepeerage.com from his biography in the book Reflections on the Work of C.A.R. Hoare, which calls his family background "somewhat upper-class" and references the site in a footnote.

[1] http://thepeerage.com/p14062.htm#i140620

[2] http://thepeerage.com/p39939.htm#i399386

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Hoare_(priest)

Thanks for the spadework!

No problem; your question made me curious. Too late to edit, but I wrote it up on my blog for posterity: http://www.kmjn.org/notes/car_hoare_bank.html


> He developed the sorting algorithm quicksort in 1959/1960. He also developed Hoare logic for verifying program correctness, and the formal language communicating sequential processes (CSP) to specify the interactions of concurrent processes (including the dining philosophers problem) and the inspiration for the occam programming language.

I'm related to the Hoares. Probably. There can't be many distinct families with that surname.

My bankers are Hoares, one of the recurrent puns in Jack Aubrey novels.

For someone who loves a pun so much, it's hilarious that he never gets that one.

Beat me to the punch...

Fun fact, Edward Hoare, one of the owning family, is a mind mapping enthusiast who created the https://www.thortspace.com “collaborative visual thinking tool”.

The article keeps saying their advantage is their ability to "find solutions other banks can't". I don't know what that means. Exotic loan terms? Collateralizing difficult-to-value assets?

So banking is a complex mess of years and years of regulation that seem to change when the government does or there is an event. An example for me personally was trying to buy a house after the crash. (This bit is simplified vs the details of rules). They changed the loan laws to put incoming as the key limit on what you could write a loan against. I had made a nice chuck of money on my last startup and was very lucky enough to be in the position to be able to write a check for the house. That however would make no sense. The interest rates where very low and having a mortgage has a tax benefit. The issue was that I had moved to another startup and traded salary for stock, so my income was to low to meet the requires for the home loan (they ignore the fact that my net holdings could cover the house 8x). No major bank could write the loan. However I was able to find a private bank that because of their structure and the fact that they carried the paper (did not sell the loan on) where able to write the loan no issues. I just structured stock sales each month to cover the mortgage, ignoring my income (which was a number picked to cover the family expenses less the housing cost). I was only able to set this all up because it was a private bank that looked at the full picture. That’s the key value of a bank like this.

^ very true. Larger banks also do this, but you need someone high up the totem pole to connect with. Most lower level employees cannot approve these things and just input things into the system (which has a risk model that spits out a yes/no answer).

Well, this is one reason to use a mortgage broker who has the contacts and can work the system for your circumstances.

(My mortgage broker, whom I've never met, has sorted out something similar for someone who was self-employed. I got his number by word of mouth.)

That's a super cool anecdote, thanks for sharing! Feels like meeting the needs of each customer in finance can be like writing bespoke code for each! Using:

- existing 'data structures' like "loans"

- 'infrastructure' such as "positioning that allows carrying the paper"

... and so forth =)

What bank did you use?

There are a lot of advantages that a small privately owned bank might have over large giants. For example:

* Banking based on reputation - sometimes you know that someone is trustworthy and good for the money, but the numbers on paper don't show it. Maybe their credit score was dinged for some reason that's easy to explain. Maybe you know their family personally. A small bank might be able to lend to people who are excluded by the big banks' algorithms.

* Big banks are under more scrutiny. That doesn't mean they don't do things with dirty money, but they are being watched more closely (I'm not accusing this particular family of shady banking practices... just noting that there is indeed a large amount of dirty money out there that flows through banks, and some banks are more willing to look the other way).

* As you said, collateralizing weird assets. Some banks might allow a thoroughbred horse as collateral. Most probably don't have the expertise to value these things and so they don't want to allow it as collateral.

There's a few good examples in this article [0] by Barron's, but amongst the access to not-widely-available investments mentioned by other posters, there's a general desire to understand the client as a person rather than a data point.

It's less likely you go in seeking a loan etc and get told "risk model says no" because you have your assets tied up in a business or other non-standard investments their processes aren't built to understand.

This is available to a similar degree at other private banks.

[0] https://www.barrons.com/articles/SB5000142405311190457170457...

* Flexibility when accessing cash. Even very wealthy individuals can have cash flow problems. Allowing payment despite lack of funds is big thing for millionaires who don't want to be embarrassed. When the banker knows you personally, they can asses the risk and give loans quickly. When you want to buy something very expensive very suddenly these banks can move money, even bags of cash, immediately.

* Wealth management trough tax, trust and estate planning.

* Connections that give access to some forms of private equity. Bankers can arrange meetings and they know people.

Big banking is about standardizing things so that they remove all of the thinking and make things more fungible. Standard people with standard jobs buying standard houses and only some numbers change.

But there are enough non-standard things around that also benefit from banking. (No, I'm not talking about crime or bad actors, just people who don't standardize their business for some reason or another.)

I'd imagine for a client, most of the value of this bank is access to what I can only imagine to be the most fantastically exotic network it sits at the centre of

As a person that is definitely not part of the global one percent, my imagination ran to something like the Eyes Wide Shut orgy scene.


Perhaps without duties to investors or depositors they aren't hung up on rules and risk mitigations, specifically a banker being able to make decisions based only on their own judgement.

They have depositors but you're right that they don't have investors, and decisions are made by people (i.e. the partners who own the bank) exercising their judgment instead of "Computer Says No!", like at most banks.

Hoare is unilimited liability company. Partners are responsible with their personal assets.

They are more risk averse than normal bank, they trade growth to stability.

Brown Brothers Harriman still is (or used to be that way -- my info is dated) in the US, too.

Random story - I worked with one of the Hoares many moons ago, in the banking industry. Funny to read this on HN.

But it is a different kind of risk aversion when your fiduciary duty is to yourself instead of someone external.

Like how I don't have to have health inspectors come investigate my kitchen to make myself lunch.

It's not just personal responsibility. Everyone is responsible for the whole and have fiduciary duty to everyone else. Owners will watch each other.

>Collateralizing difficult-to-value assets?

A family like this definitely has connections. Maybe they collateralize favors that can be given to them and word of those don't get out because it's a tight-knit group.

I think it was Mick Jagger who bought a London "residence" from this family in the '60s and enjoyed referring to it as "The Hoare House"

I'm a customer of Hoare's. AMA.

What're some surprising facts about it that are unexpected to an outsider?

There's a well in the cellar of their head office.

The partners (who I kinda assumed would be silent) are actively involved in day-to-day decision-making about stuff like lending and new customer applications (I met with one of the partners when I applied for an account and he then had to get the agreement of his partners before they accepted me as a customer).

Their online banking service is a lot slicker than I expected. While they obviously make an effort to preserve their offices in the traditional style you see in the photographs in the linked article, I get the impression that, behind the scenes, they employ totally up-to-date technology.

They donate a significant chunk of the bank's profits to charity, through the Golden Bottle Trust - https://www.hoaresbank.co.uk/sites/default/files/styles/The%...

Their pens are really good.

Do you still get the leather chequebook cover like a purse my mother had when she banked there?

Is there still a commissionaire with a top hat at the door?

I didn't get a chequebook so I don't know but they did give me a nice leather wallet for my cash and cards.

They still have a doorman but I don't think he wears a top hat.

any specific disadvantages to Hoare, or are there things that you miss that you enjoyed with a more trad bank?

I think Hoare's is probably as "traditional" a bank as you can get! :)

Joking aside, the only shortcoming I can think of is that, if I instruct a Faster Payment (i.e. a bank transfer) over the weekend, it doesn't get processed until Monday morning. Newer "challenger" banks like Starling and Monzo process Faster Payments 24x7.

Other than that, it's a full-service bank.

Have you ever been to any of the 'evening talks'? What are they on? Are they interesting?

I've been to one talk, about the history of the bank, followed by a tour of the bank's museum. It was very interesting, and I'd like to go to more but it's a matter of finding the time.

A lot of the talks are about the work of charitable organisations, such as Hospice Africa (www.hospice-africa.org.uk/), Afghan Connection (http://afghanconnection.org), A Blueprint for Better Business (https://www.blueprintforbusiness.org), Intermission Youth Theatre (http://www.intermissionyouththeatre.co.uk) and Veterans Aid (https://veterans-aid.net).

Details of some of the talks are listed at https://www.hoaresbank.co.uk/events

What do they provide you that's worth the extra fees?

Peace of mind.

I know that they're not going to kneejerk shut my account just because I received a bank transfer from a cryptocurrency exchange. I trust them more than I trust the regular high street banks to not try to screw me with hidden or unfair fees. If anything ever happens to me, I feel like they'll be helpful to my wife and family, whereas a regular bank would just shrug and say "Sorry, can't help!"

By the way regarding the "extra fees", the standard account fee (£60 per month) is waived if you keep at least £25,000 in your account, and normal day-to-day online personal banking transactions are free so I don't actually pay any more fees than I would with a normal bank.

Do they provide in and out services?

Note that Child & Co is actually the oldest bank in Britain, not C.Hoare & Co.

Child & Co. was sold which is likely why its no longer the original banking dynasty but it is still around.


> Note that Child & Co is actually the oldest bank in Britain, not C.Hoare & Co.

The article is about the 'oldest banking dynasty', not the 'oldest bank', so you're not contradicting anything with your 'actually'.

It also refers to it as "the oldest surviving independent bank", which is also true.

Any relation to C A R Hoare who invented Quicksort?

See the previous reply here - but yes, distantly - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20394967

I'm wondering why do they decide to gain some publicity now.

My mother always said Sir Samuel Hoare (of the pre-WWII Hoare-Laval Crisis) was put into politics because he was too bloody stupid to be trusted to work in the family bank.

I remember in my shop assistant days getting cheques from customers who banked with them.

It felt like the punchline of an elaborate joke.

At the time I was selling bikes. The kids from the council estate would have their parents or grandparents save up all year in a special book, paying by instalments. Then, at Christmas time, they would get a Raleigh bike, not quite the cheapest but certainly not the most expensive. It would be a nice new bike though.

Meanwhile, we also had a trade in second hand bikes that customers would trade in. Out the back would be all kinds of rusting bicycles that had seen better days.

Some customers would want these rather than the new shiny bikes. So you would go out the back and find something that would be suitable.

Often a little bit of work would be needed to make these left-over has-been bicycles saleable. Then you would get further ground down on the price, adding on components from the workshop that happened to be there, e.g. a new seat or an OEM chain to replace the orange rusted one on the bike.

The poor child that would have to ride the thing would be actually too small for it, the parents insisting on the bike the child could 'grow into'. The council estate kids would actually get the correct size for them, the parents would save up for a replacement over the coming year. But these kids buying second hand just had some ungainly monster sized bike that they had to 'grow into'.

People of wealth don't actually show off their wealth if they are aristocratic. They still wear the same coat for decades so you can't guess that they are mansion-dwelling loaded or poor. The accent might give a clue but if you are customer service driven you just get on with it rather than make these discrimination thoughts.

So, finally, having been haggled down to make the sale totally not worth it, there are one of two denouements. The more common one is to kindly offer to put the bike in the car for them to discover that it is a Range Rover (or posh Volvo).

The other 'I have been had' denouement was for them to pay by cheque and for it to be a cheque from this very bank. (payment by cheque dates this story).

Along with the 'drat, I have been had' sinking feeling there is also an unwritten understanding that you don't ask for the cheque guarantee card. Just ownership of the chequebook from the bank makes it good enough. By then you have clocked their scruffy attire is actually aristocratic posh or maybe even seen the Range Rover.

The rich don't get rich by giving their money away. This lesson was drummed into me by these moments.

I think that this bank must know this. Their customer is not going to be flipping houses and cars, forever speculating and living beyond their means. They pay for the upkeep to the estate, Tarquin's school fees and haggle for everything else.

The next group of 'least profitable customer' for me happened to be Scottish. Inevitably if I had a customer with a Scottish accent I kind of knew my boss would be grilling me later for being tricked into a discount too far or a freebee too many. There would be a different denouement scenario with your typical Scottish customer. You would have everything agreed and then if some shop 50 miles away had allegedly offered them a price 1p cheaper than your best deal they would be fully willing to walk out on the sale, presumably off to get that 1p saving elsewhere.

Luckily Scottish customers were few and far between, as were shoplifters, however, it was the C. Hoare cheque owners (and the other one, Coutts) that you had to watch out for.

This reminds me a story a friend of mine told me. When he was a kid he had a job delivering the local free news paper around his local town in the UK. This was at a time when local free news papers were still a thing.

At Christmas time he had a plan, he knock on the doors of houses on his round and explain that he was their local paper delivery boy and ask for tips.

He did this first on the part of his route with gated mansions in the area. To his dismay all he got was sneered at. He tried again on the council house part of his route and for every house pretty much all occupants were very generous and appreciating of his work.

At the other end I'm aware of some people who are asset rich, but not that cash wealthy. They've inherited a huge house or estate, but only have just enough money to keep things ticking over. Often big estates like that start to go into disrepair for that reason.

I did newspapers too. The Christmas tips were a goldmine, I did the paid for papers so there was always a weekly exchange of money.

I had to call my mum out to help me carry the vast amount of loot - if only I had that money now!

I think that the free newspapers were not welcome by all. Whereas if you are delivering someone their Daily Telegraph or Times then you are of value to them. So I received good tips from all classes of people, although there were the old folk that thought that a 5p tip on a weekly basis was generous. They might stretch to £1 at Christmas time.

The other benefit of this network - I had something like 100 customers in the rural shires - was school sponsored walks. I just had to ask the customer base to sponsor me and I would raise ten times the amount of anyone else.

But with it came an important life lesson...

I was never able to get all of the four figure sum in on time. People would be on holiday, they would move, they would die or just somehow not be around for me to ask them for the money they pledged.

Hence I would be at least £50 - £100 short. I didn't want to pay that out of my own pocket but the school was strict about the rules. They couldn't have any kids pocketing the money, which is fair enough.

So I never received the prize money for raising the most money. Someone else would get to the stage in school assembly to get the £10(!) book token and the kudos that went with it.

My teachers and my friends knew I had raised vastly more than whomever got to the stage, typically they would have large sums donated by relatives, not hundreds of small sums pledged by everyone in two villages.

I learned from that more than I would have done had I been up on the stage collecting the prize. We don't do charity for fame and prizes. The recognition comes in other ways.

Other ways?

Well, apart from the good causes aspect, I was part of the community. I had a support network that I would not have had if I was not delivering the papers. I also got actual respect from my teachers, so years later I was able to do work placement things for the teacher that had put me through the wringer for being tardy paying in the vast sums pledged to 'Save the Children'. Also, in my adult life I think I understand 'personal philanthropy' (not charity) better than most.

I'm born and raised in the US by a single American mother - but my dad was a real Scotsman, sometimes I see my aunt on his side and she always says "you might not have an accent, but I know yer Scottish because yer tight (cheap) and all Scots are tight"


Anecdotal irrelevance

And Sir Tony Hoare invented the Quicksort!

So that front page article title mentioning "Rothschild" has been removed now?

Yes, we replaced the baity title with the less baity subtitle. Standard moderation move here.



So given the comparison to Rothschilds dynasty in the article, why isn't the Hoare family the target of numerous, vague conspiracy theories and Ben Garrison cartoons? Better PR agents? Luck?

1) They're old, but they're not that big - book value is "only" 370 million pounds. 2) They're not Jewish. A lot of the diatribes directed at the Rothschilds are anti-semitic in origin.

Can anyone comment with the family name, I'm being paywalled for being over my free views and not interested in paying 10$ for one article.

Just kill javascript on the domain, it will let you through every time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._Hoare_%26_Co

It's C. Hoare & Co. and at least some of the family running it still have that name.

Just delete the Bloomberg cookies and you reset your count.

"C. Hoare & Co. has been in business for more than three hundred years, and the family that founded it is still running the show."

Click the web link and then cached version on google and life is good.

As there are over 2000 Hoares (oo err) I'm guessing the dividend is kept low to keep the money with the 'core Hoares' who have the control?

It seems to me like there is a space to become the Gucci/Rolls Royce/Hermes/... of banking. The place where famous Instagrammers bank. Expensive, authentic, exclusive, heritage,

There are many existing banks that cater to rich people.

Name one bank that the average person on the street recognizes as an exclusive bank that only rich people can afford to use, like they do with Ferarri or Rolls Royce.

I worked with a start-up that focused on providing software for private family offices. These are for UHNW people who have more than 100 million USD. They do not want to brag that they go to the Bentley of banks. They want to keep it as private as possible.

Typically UHNW has a private family office, something between a concierge and philanthropy and a private investment organization, which maintain relationships with private banking services provided by Credit Suisse, UBS, etc. It can cost 1-2 million USD a year to run a private family office.

You never hear about family offices and in some areas you may only see a discreet sign at a posh building saying "private banking" and all of these folks want to keep it that way. The branding play here is being tight-lipped and discrete.

I'm well aware.

The Bentley of banks is not for UHNW, just like mass luxury products are neither.

The Bentley of banks is for people like this:


So you're thinking somewhere between the Magnises card by Billy McFarland (Fyre Festival dude), Soho House, and upper-tier retail banking...that's all 100% instagramable?

I think you're on to something. I wouldn't be surprised if Soho House or other private clubs work with retail banks towards something like this.

One time, long ago, I had money once, and I was a member of HSBC Premier. It allowed to me to cut lines at the bank, have a small lounge area, and get free coffee. But that's about it. I don't think it would cost them too much to sign a deal with Soho House or WeWork or something like that, and offer tickets to see Beyonce at some private concert or something like that.

There could be market for something like that.

That’s basically what Amex Platinum offers. Last I heard they had created an entire team to focus on wooing the millennial crowd.

What kinds of software did you provide to these private family offices?

J.P. Morgan Private Bank, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs Private Bank. There are plenty of others. All of these have well-known brands and aren't accessible to the average person.

J.P. Morgan's private bank even issues the "Reserve Card", which is identical to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, except that it is made out of palladium to show off to anyone who cares and it has a higher annual fee.

Coutts is one name an average person on the street in the UK would recognise as exclusive bank.

The fact that ordinary people don't recognize the name is the point.

You flaunt a R-R, you don't flaunt your bank.

I believe the term of art is "you pimp a Rolls-Royce" :-)

Ferrari and Rolls Royce are marketed for conspicuous consumption. The service is called private banking for a reason.

I think Amex sorta fill this role, although not with the same level of premium reputation



OP's point is about branding.

I think you're right, and that this applies to many areas (not just banks).

'#influencer'ism seems, most unfortunately, not only here to stay but on the rise and increasingly recognised.


this shouldn't be downvoted, a branded high end banking that has a cool factor doesn't readily come to mind. If anything a black card from Amex proves a market

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