The surviving records of Helbert, Wagg & Co. Ltd cover its business activities from the end of the first world war up to its merger with Schroders Limited in 1960, operationally completed in 1962. The majority of the collection consists of material pertaining to the firm's corporate finance activities, but there are also records of the investment trusts managed by the firm. Records pertaining to the management of the firm include corporate governance papers and accounts. There are only occasional items concerning the Wagg family and the firm's activities before the first world war.
Papers of Helbert, Wagg & Co. Ltd
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- ReferenceGB 3277 HW
- Dates of Creation1875 - 1962
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish
- Physical Descriptionc 66 volumes and c 1236 files
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Helbert, Wagg & Co. was formed in 1848 by two London stockbrokers, John Helbert (1785-1861) and his nephew John Wagg (1793-1878). The two men, from families originating in Germany, were members of London's Jewish community, and John Helbert's wife, Adeline Cohen, was the sister of Hannah, wife of Nathan Rothschild. Helbert, Wagg & Co.'s principal client was the firm of N.M. Rothschild & Sons.
From the 1860s Helbert, Wagg & Co. had also been engaged in the issuing and underwriting of securities. This became its principal activity when, in 1912, the firm resigned from the London Stock Exchange and ceased to be a stockbroker.
In 1919 the firm incorporated as Helbert, Wagg & Co. Ltd, with Alfred Wagg (1877-1969), the grandson of John Wagg, and other members of the family as the majority shareholders. Alfred Wagg was chair of the firm from 1922 until 1954, his most important contribution to its success being his ability to attract and retain high calibre staff. His executive team included Nigel Campbell, Bernard Barrington, Lawrence Jones, Albert Palache and Max Bonn.
In the 1920s the firm began offering investment management services, launching four investment trusts during the interwar years. It also engaged in foreign exchange dealing – run by Lionel Fraser and George Bolton - and international securities arbitrage. In addition, the firm made large bond issues for European governments and public authorities, and provided corporate finance services for British manufacturing companies and financial trusts.
In 1946 Lionel Fraser became deputy chair, replacing Alfred Wagg as chair in 1954. In the post-war years the firm took on pension fund management, and also developed expertise in mergers and acquisitions. The new executive team included Gordon Gunson, James O'Brien, Alan Russell, Michael Verey and Charles Villiers.
In 1960 the firm merged with Schroders Limited, the two firms becoming fully integrated in the operating company J. Henry Schroder Wagg & Co. Ltd in 1962.
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On the merger of Helbert, Wagg & Co. Ltd with Schroders Limited in 1960, files concerning business of the previous forty years or so were transferred to the new entity. The majority of the records concerning Helbert, Wagg & Co. Ltd in the Schroder Archive accumulated within the corporate records management system of Schroders plc.
Richard Roberts Schroders: merchants and bankers (London: Macmillan, 1992)