Many times in business, bosses can think that making unilateral decisions from on high without transparency and demonstrating dominance is the right way to run things. In actuality, however, that can lead to a cutthroat work environment where people don’t support one another and the business struggles because of it. Without the guidance of a nurturing management team, people often never discover their true potential, leading the organisation to stagnate.
Luke James, Co-Host of The Interview, spoke to Chris Ball, a founding partner of Hoxton Capital Management, about how being a great leader means empowering your people to make good decisions and improve themselves.
I started my career eighteen years ago at KPMG. I trained as a tax adviser and accountant. I left them seven years ago and decided to go into financial advice. I decided to move to Abu Dhabi, where I embraced the opportunity to work for Nigel Green in the deVere Group, who also happens to be my friend's dad... I never really considered it as a profession before or living in the United Arab Emirates, but six months in, I found I really liked it. I enjoyed the client interactions, the face-to-face meetings and improving their lives and finances. I’ve not looked back since. Five years ago, I left deVere and started Hoxton with another old school friend, Matt Dean. He started the UK business, and I started the UAE business here, and then we built out our respective companies opening businesses internationally and taking on more partners and assets. We now manage over a billion pounds of assets across Dubai, London, New York, Ireland, Sydney, Australia… And we’ve got lofty plans to grow more. So it’s been quite a journey.
I think number one is showing it’s not all about you. It should be ‘we’, not ‘I’. It’s about the people you’ve got around you and making sure they feel empowered to make the right decisions. Good leaders coach; they don’t dictate. It’s also important to have the perseverance to make the tough decisions as well. Not every day is sunshine and roses. We’re going through a hard time across the world at the moment with various economic issues, high inflation, and high interest rates. It’s not an easy patch to operate in. If you can’t make difficult choices at times, ultimately, your company will fail, so you have to think about what’s best for the company, not the individual and a lot of leaders struggle with that. Transparency is also key. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth out of fear of not being liked. You need to help people understand the reasons why you’re making your decision, and hopefully, they’ll see it’s common sense.
Also, make sure you’re available. Working in an open-plan space can be ideal. That way, people can see you and can come up to you and ask questions. If you’re sat in your office all day not speaking to anyone, head down, you won’t be as present or effective.
Where you are now isn’t necessarily where you’ll be in five to ten years’ time. You need to remember that in whatever you’re doing. Just because you’re not where you want to be doesn’t mean you won’t ever be. Nothing in life is easy. When I first started at KPMG, I was stuck to a photocopier for the first six months. I remember my dad saying, “You won’t be doing that in five years, but you have to do it now to prove to those guys that you can do a task well despite how monotonous it might seem.” It’s all a part of learning.
We’re very fortunate that a lot of our senior managers have been with us from the start and have grown into those roles, so people having the opportunity to see those who have risen in the business is key. It’s about getting the right people on the bus and finding out what seats to put them in but also understanding that when you bring someone in for a particular role, that might not be where they end up. It’s about showing people a path to grow and regularly speaking with them to help you understand what’s important to them and what they want their progression to look like.
We’ve just launched our new app – The Hoxton App. We built it initially for our clients and have now extended it out to anyone who wants to use it. We work predominantly with expatriates who live all around the world. A lot of them accumulate many different investments, bank accounts, and properties in all of these different areas. Getting a good overview of your true net worth can be difficult. Through open banking, our app enables you to pull information from all of the providers to get a full, global overview of your assets in the currency of your choice, on a daily basis. It also has planning tools so you can see how to reach your goals without sitting down with a financial adviser. You can do it all in the palm of your hand.
It’s gradual. You can’t expect everyone to be integrated into your business on day one. You’ve got to build that over time. When you’re acquiring a business, it’s also important to make sure they’re a good fit beforehand. Get in and speak to the staff. If you don’t share core values, then it’s time to part ways.