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Our Story

From changing ambitions to changing lives


    Life isn't a rehearsal

    Watch this video to learn how our military origins helped us discover why traditional financial services is broken.

    Learn about your new opportunity to make more informed and effective financial decisions... to feel confident, empowered and good about your future.

    Sam Instone AES International

    Service and protection

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

    After graduating, he was commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst into The Household Cavalry.

    Sam loved the military and its strong core values. 

    He ended up protecting The Queen at Buckingham Palace.

    AES International was born in Geneva

    Time to get a 'normal' job

    On starting a family, Sam reluctantly left the Army and joined a 'wealth manager' in Geneva.

    It took just a few days to discover self-interested firms and conflicted salespeople couldn't be trusted.

    Gone were the core values, integrity and sense of service.

    The entire system was broken.

    So he resolved to work with others who felt the same.

    To create a new way to help people make important financial decisions…

    “Science, technology and education will provide a new opportunity”

    On a beautiful 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, his laptop – and a missionary idea.

    But within a few months, other military veterans, financial professionals and young graduates joined.   

    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 focussed on helping veterans...  

      Bringing new levels of trust and service based upon military values.

      But over time, they discovered more about a global financial services industry intent upon rewarding itself, not clients.

      Banks, fund companies, asset managers, insurance companies and salespeople created and sold products designed to confuse. 

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

      Spotting an opportunity to help clients who didn’t know where to turn, they decided to challenge the status quo. 

      To transform this outdated industry and pioneer a better way.

      Their mission – to create 'Positive Change' for their clients and their profession...

      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.

      A new head office and a clear mission to help clients make more informed and effective financial decisions fuelled rapid growth.


      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 was 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 industry 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 now become available... 



      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 and the next, mercenaries and missionaries, and firms that want to be big vs. 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 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 wanted to protect their secrets and our own peer group rallied to protect outdated practice.

      The making of AES International

      The making of AES International

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

      Helping pivot us from big to best – from follower to leader and accepted practice to best practice…

      Ultimately setting us on a new course for what AES International would become.

      We made three critical promises designed to give our clients a new opportunity to feel confident, empowered and good about their futures.


      The new opportunity

      AES International DIFC

      From adviser to teacher (2016 >> )

      Through an unrelenting focus on best practice, 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 Investors In People Champion in the GCC…

      The only evidence-based organisation within our marketplace.

      Our goal  to enable more informed and effective decisions based upon science not speculation.

      By making our expertise and unique processes available online, AES is gaining more traffic, more followers and more enquiries than ever before.

      A new model - embracing change

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

      Knowing there is now a new opportunity for clients to make better  financial decisions – we embraced simplicity, flexibility and transparency.

      AES created the first international cyborg investment platform to enable international investors to access institutional grade funds. 


      The Smart Account »

      The British Army’s motto is BE THE BEST…

      This encapsulates our driving vision since inception…

      An ever-evolving vision based upon military values and 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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