Research guidelines

Introduction Categories & Rankings Methodology Research calendar How to take part


The Spear’s 500 is your guide to the best private client advisers. From wealth managers to family lawyers and property advisers to fine wine experts, Spear’s offers you advice on the advisers.

Spear's publishes indices of the top advisers from a range of different fields. These indices incorporate a three-tiered ranking system, which classifies advisers as Top Ten/Top Flight, Top Recommended, or Recommended.

 Rankings are drawn up on the basis of peer nominations, client feedback, telephone and face-to-face interviews, data supplied by firms, as well as information gathered by the Spear’s editorial and research teams. 

If you are an adviser to HNWs and would like to receive updates about upcoming research and rankings, click below to register your interest. 

Spear's profiles

The profiles on have various different elements. All profiles have a section with the heading 'Spear's Review'. This is written by the Spear's editorial team. Enhanced profiles have an additional section with the heading 'Adviser Profile'. The content under this heading is provided by the adviser and/or their firm. 

Profiles on also have 'attributes' that detail factors such as an adviser's location, their specialist expertise and information about their clientbase. These attributes allow users to search and filter the Spear's database of 2,000 private client advisers to find one (or more) to meet their specific requirements.


Our online and print directory covers the following core areas: 

  • Alternative Assets                                
  • Aviation & Yachts
  • Family Fortunes
  • Philanthropy
  • Family Lawyers  
  • Homes, Health & Lifestyle    
  • Lawyers Beyond London
  • Legal Directory & Hommes d’Affaires
  • Passion Investments
  • Property Advisers
  • Reputation Managers
  • Tax & Trust Advisers
  • Wealth Managers

Our rankings

Within each category we have three core tiers of Advisers: 

  • Top Ten
  • Top Recommended
  • Recommended

The Top Ten Adviser lists appear first in Spear’s magazine throughout the year with the full lists of Advisers then compiled toform the Spear’s 500 Private Client guide.

In addition to the core tiers of Advisers we have two other designations to highlight individual Advisers:

Eminence grise 

These individuals are some of the most established and respected names in their markets. They tend to have a key role in client relationship management and in shaping the ethos of their firm. 

Rising stars

Advisers who are already exhibiting excellence and building impressive reputations, despite being aged just 35 or under. 


In order to provide the most relevant and useful information to our readers, we assign and evaluate a range of attributes for each individual Adviser. These attributes form the basis of our directory and will be fully searchable on our soon-to-be-released new web platform. 

Each attribute is rated according to the Adviser’s focus and skill. For example, if an Adviser is known for advising clients from a particular country their expertise in this market will be considered an attribute, and will be scored accordingly.


Several factors dictate the Spear’s rankings and the position of individual advisers within them. The final decision is made by our highly experienced team of researchers and journalists who use a range of sources to ensure that the Spear’s rankings are the most authoritative and trusted in the market. 

Company submissions 

The submissions sent to us during the research periods are used to determine the scope of work done by advisers and firms. The more detail you can give in your submission the better chance you have of being ranked accurately. 

Analyst Survey data 

Advisers can submit additional and more personalised information to us through the adviser survey. The more information an adviser can provide the more accurate their rankings and profile will be. The adviser survey is particularly important in regard to compiling an adviser’s specialisms (see the ’Attributes’ section above) 

Client feedback 

No-one knows the market better than those who are engaged in it. Each research round we conduct a client feedback survey, where individuals can provide us with feedback on the advisers they have used. 

Market nominations 

In both the Analyst survey and in our interviews with market participants we ask for nominations. Advisers are asked to provide the names of anyone (from their own field or another) that they believe should be included in the guide.


Every private client firm in the market can take part in our research by completing our short research form. The form asks for basic data about the firm, its key advisers and its work.

To make a submission, complete the form:    

  • The more detailed your submission the more chance there is for the firm to be profiled accurately in the guide so please provide as much information as you are able. 
  • Please ensure that any confidential information is clearly highlighted. 
  • All companies and advisers who take part in the research are encouraged to provide client referees to support their inclusion in our rankings. See below for our guidelines around data protection.
  • We strongly suggest that you ask permission from all your client referees before passing their details to us. 

Client details and data protection 

We understand the importance of your client relationships and therefore we offer the following safeguards to ensure that all client referee details provided to us are handled correctly. 

  1. Client referees are only contacted ONCE. This is done via email.
  2. Client details ARE NOT STORED. Once we send the client referees our feedback email their personal details are deleted.

The client feedback survey focuses solely on the quality of advice given by the advisers concerned. We do not ask clients about the details of their work. 

No information from the client feedback survey is published. Sponsored firms can choose to include select client feedback as part of their profile package.

In our correspondence with the clients we always explain who we are and which firm has provided their details. 

We will always contact you 3-5 days before sending our client feedback email highlighting when we will send the email to the clients and from which email address. It is a good idea to remind your clients to expect an email from us. 


During our research we aim to speak to as many market participants as we can. Interviews are a great opportunity for our analysts to learn about an adviser’s scope and specialities. They also provide a chance for advisers to nominate counterparts, colleagues and contacts from their network.

The more information we have the more detailed our coverage can be and the easier it is for us to guide our audience to the advisers they need.