Our Story

From changing ambitions to changing lives


Creating 'Positive Change'

The key to a great life is how you live it.

Learn why we’re so committed to helping you make life count.

Discover how our military origins and values helped us understand a complex industry.

Hear how the lessons we learnt on this journey can help transform your future.

Sam Instone AES International

Childhood dreams

As far back as he remembers, Sam wanted to serve in the British Army.  

He joined cadets, completed a military degree, and commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst into The Household Cavalry.

Sam loved the military... 

He ended up in charge of The Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace.

AES International was born in Geneva

Time to get a 'normal' job

When he and his wife wanted a family, Sam reluctantly left the Army to ‘get a normal job!’

Like many people, he thought the best prospects would be in finance – so he joined a 'wealth manager' in Geneva.

It took just days for him to realise how different the world of finance is from the Army…

Gone were the culture and values that underpin the military. Gone was the integrity, the sense of duty and professionalism.

He quickly learnt that self-interested firms and conflicted salespeople couldn’t be trusted.

So he resolved to forge a better way to help people make important financial decisions…

“Education will be the weapon to help people banish complexity, regain trust and get better results.”

On a beautiful late spring afternoon, way back when in 2004…

AES International was born.

John Viney and Sam Instone

The early years (2004 - 2006)

At first, it was just one man, a laptop – and a missionary idea.

But within a few months, other military veterans joined.   

One of these was John – he’d served in the same regiment as Sam. 

Together, they poured their hearts and souls into making the idea a success…

Soon, the seeds began to sprout…

“Having known Sam in the military, I became one of the first AES clients in 2004. My faith was well placed and for well over a decade the team have acted as trusted stewards for my family’s wealth. They have continually strived to be at the forefront of their marketplace and the success they have brought both to me and their profession.”

Andrew Bourne

“AES always clearly explains complex matters which I don't fully understand. I am empowered by the knowledge and lessons I have learnt from AES and actually find myself looking forward to getting updates, blogs and reading lists about things I didn't find interesting before! The approach is poles apart from anything I have previously experienced.”

Amanda Cowan

“I was attracted to AES because of their different approach. I liked that their UK business was Chartered, I liked that they charged transparent fees and didn't accept commission. I liked that I could trust them and get some peace of mind from leading experts.”

David Galbraith

    The existence of a parallel industry...

    AES initially focused on helping veterans.   

    With its military values, AES International brought new levels of trust and service.

    But not until a conference for 'traditional international financial advisers' did they realise an entirely parallel industry existed.   

    A global financial services epidemic intent upon helping itself, not clients…   

    Consisting of banks, fund companies, asset managers, insurance companies and salespeople who created products designed to confuse. 

    Opaque, expensive, inflexible products – proven not to work.

    Spotting an opportunity to help clients who didn’t know where to turn, they decided to challenge this complex mess. 

    Their mission - to transform the out-dated international financial industry and to pioneer the creation of a vocational profession. 

    One that educates, simplifies and ultimately creates 'positive change' for clients and the marketplace...

    AES International London office

    Growth and identity (2007 - 2012)

    Relocating to London allowed the fledgling business to begin exporting UK best practice into the international marketplace.

    With a new head office, a clear mission to bring clarity to clients and rapidly advancing growth…

    ...Sam and John needed help.

    Pippa Miller, CFO

    The help of an old friend

    As luck would have it, Sam’s university friend Pippa had just given up her job.

    Seeing an opportunity, Sam asked her to help handle AES’s growth, and Pippa dived right in…

    She dedicated her time to creating a simple system to help people understand how to make better decisions. 

    The network model

    Time to disrupt

    In the UK, the market had eradicated the toxic ‘direct sales organisations’ of the 1980s and 90s. 

    The replacement model was called the ‘network’

    And so it was this structure that AES perfected and exported.

    Massive change and growth followed as the AES network model disrupted brokerages and direct sales organisations around the globe. 

    Award winning financial advice

    Awards and recognition

    By 2011, AES was the 4th fastest growing business in Britain, a top 50 financial firm by size and had won many accolades. 

    Richard Branson, Barclays Bank, Ernst and Young all awarded them.

    The Economist Magazine called Sam ‘The Field Marshal of Finance.’ 

    Staff now numbered in the hundreds and AES held over 67 licences worldwide.

    …but something at the core was still not as good as it could be…

    Transparent fees

    Challenging times (2012 - 2015)

    Like other industries and professions, financial services was rapidly changing.

    Professional standards were being raised…
    Practices were being refined…
    Options for investors were improving.

    AES wanted to be at the forefront – but the network model wasn’t adaptable...

    Traditional advisers resisted the introduction of higher standards.

    Product providers resisted technologies, improvements and any form of change.

    Even clients often didn’t understand that far better options had become available... 

    …like transparent fees instead of opaque commissions.


    A battle commenced...

    Between a self-interested financial services industry of the past.

    And believers in a new, better way for the future.

    It was a fight between the last generation against the next, mercenaries against missionaries, and firms that want to be big against ones that want to be the best.

    We knew our mission depended on our ability to enable much needed change. 

    But when change came, it was painful because it meant dramatic cuts.

    AES said farewell to colleagues who didn’t share our passion for educating by sharing information, and who wouldn’t embrace new ways to help get clients much better results.

    We had to explain to clients why we believed past products were now out of date.

    And the self-interested financial services industry tried to fight us – product providers to protect their secrets and our own peer group to protect outdated practice.

    James McLeod, Legal Counsel

    Enter James!

    Another former Army officer, James had been a lawyer at Herbert Smith. 

    He joined our crusade – protecting our business and our clients from the naysayers – and ensuring transparency in all our words and actions.

    The making of AES International

    The making of AES International

    Despite the challenges, this difficult period proved to be our making.

    Deep expertise and wisdom flourished.

    Our transformative decisions pivoted us from big to best – from follower to leader – from accepted practice to best practice…

    And set a new course for what AES International would become.

    Those who stayed wanted to stay because we made three critical promises to ourselves and our clients.


    Three transformative promises

    AES International DIFC

    From adviser to teacher (2016 >> )

    We exclusively focused on best practice within our marketplace, and in consequence large corporates and ultra-wealthy clients approached us.

    Our UK business became the first and only Corporate Chartered Financial Planner devoted to helping international clients.

    The only evidence-based overseas adviser …

    The only Investors In People Champion in the GCC…

    The only completely transparent organisation within our marketplace.

    Our goal - to provide simple systems and invaluable resources to guide international investors and corporates who want better results…

    And by making our expertise accessible and by sharing everything online, AES is gaining more traffic, more followers and more enquiries than ever before.

    Stuart Ritchie, Chartered Financial Planner

    Changing the way the world invests

    With renewed momentum, a new model for the business appeared.  

    Stuart, both a Chartered Financial Planner and Chartered Wealth Manager, joined us from a firm of accountants. 

    He couldn’t believe the short-comings of the traditional market, and had an idea to help all international investors get much better results

    Stuart saw in AES an end to the complexity, risk, friction and frustration clients have with overseas financial services – and the way to help increase their confidence.

    We welcomed Stuart as a director, and together brought his vision – "to change the way the world invests" – to life…

    A new model - embracing change

    For many years AES was an intermediary, attempting to find the best products for clients. 

    Like mobile phones, many products of the past are now out of date.  Superseded by better options.

    Knowing there is now a better way for clients to make decisions  - and that there will be better again in the future – we wholeheartedly embrace this positive change and simplification.

    And with Stuart’s vision, AES has created the world’s first cyborg investment platform to enable international investors – regardless of their wealth or location – to access better options…


    The AES Index Account

    Wealth management

    A beautifully simple solution

    No lock-in periods, no hidden commissions and no frustrating complexity.

    Just one of many simple solutions to help everyone get better results.

    Since the end of 2016, AES has focused exclusively on international wealth management and employee benefits. 

    Wealth management – changing the way the world invests.

    Employee benefits – changing the way companies protect.

    Our purpose distilled.

    A positively different approach to helping clients thrive.

    All about getting you better results, nothing less.

    Today, AES continues to pioneer 'positive change'.

    The British Army’s motto is BE THE BEST…

    This encapsulates our driving vision since inception…

    An ever-evolving vision; based on helping people like you.

    Today, we aspire to be the best, the most innovative, and most educational international wealth and benefits business in the world.

    One that "makes the world, healthy, wealthy and wise"...

    …and we’re still just getting started...





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