With regulatory change driving convergence and the sale of many IFA firms in Dubai, deVere Group continues to grow.
But with Nigel Green - one of the international financial world's biggest names, at the helm - it is perhaps not a major surprise that going against the grain is at the heart of the business.
And as chief executive and founder of deVere Group - one of the world's biggest IFA firms with outposts across the globe - his biggest challenge, is, perhaps, finding the hours in the day to complete everything that he would like to.
In our latest video and Q&A, below, the first of a two-part interview to launch our new ‘The Big Interview - The Advisers' section (sponsored by Hansard), Gary Robinson visited Green at the company's offices Dubai, which he uses as his main base.
Change is not something that appears to phase Nigel Green. Indeed he seems to welcome and even thrive in adverse circumstances and, if necessary quickly restructure his company's business models to suit contrasting evolving environments across different jurisdictions.
A typical day for Green starts at about 3am. He has his exercise routines and is working by 4am-4.30am. "I am working across different time zones, so this suits me," he says.
In his offices, he tends to have two desks, with one that is adjustable so that he can choose to stand up and work. Standing up while talking on the phone delivers a better performance, he points with a smile.
This revealing and exclusive video (above) and Q&A (below), is the first of a two-part interview with Green to launch our latest ‘The Big Interview - The Advisers' section (sponsored by Hansard) - on the website, were we will bring you the biggest names in the global advisory world every month.
Why is the Middle East and Dubai so important to deVere and international financial services generally?
The Middle East has just developed. A lot of my top people are in the Middle East. There was a change of management. I spend some of my time here. I've got to be based somewhere. It has a great airport. I can fly anywhere. It is tax free. So, it has ended up as our main base for me as well.
How is regulatory change in the Middle East and the move to lower cost advice, shaping how companies do business?
You have to constantly look at your own business model and that has become even more important in the last few years. There is a low-cost environment. Clients want lower charges. It squeezes the adviser and actually squeezes the mutual fund manager as well. Maybe more. It will be interesting to see how the next five years develop. Do you really need a mutual fund manager some people may actually say.
You could end up with a good adviser and a good structure that the client is using with a whole series of ETFs that they could be using to reduce their costs. And then you'd go well, do you need a discretionary manager? Why pay XX company to manage it? Is that where the main squeeze is?
So, we are constantly looking at it and constantly looking at how you can improve the service and also how you can be effective as a business and as an individual.
DeVere has a mix of adviser remuneration structures. Can you ever see the company move to become entirely fee-based?
Yes, I do. We have it the UK to a large extent. We have two good businesses in the UK which are fee based, that is a successful for us as a company, part of the corporate market interestingly.
We have a company there that looks after big companies like the BBC and looks after employees of that organise Rolls Royce. Some big, big names, big organisations that actually pay deVere a fee to actually give advice to their employees about their company pensions. We are in that [fee-based] marketplace we understand it and we understand that the rest of the world could move in that direction.
I don't think it is fundamentally that different at the end of the day people need good products, good service and they need to get good returns and if you can achieve that and build good relationships then you are going to be successful in financial services in my opinion.
As the head of one of the biggest IFA firms you are in the firing line a lot. How do you cope with negative attention? Does it affect you personally?
Does it? It has become everyday life for me. There are lots of people that have attacked but reality, it is a little bit like we have all got problems in life but if you actually write down all of your problems and then look at it again six months later then most of the problems actually didn't occur or weren't as bad as you thought that they were going to be.
I think that is the same as when you get attacked by some individuals. In reality is it as bad as you think at the time. It feels personal, it feels hurtful, perhaps, but really? Ok, you are going to look back in six months and you will have forgotten the person and the attack. [It is] part of life, part of what you expect. You are disappointed for a moment a bit disappointed like you are when Chelsea lose, but you move on, right? Next game, right?
Optimizing performance both professionally and personally, is clearly important to you. What is the backdrop to this?
When I first went to work initially I actually worked for somebody else and I realised I was spending lots of time of planes. I was listening to someone - it may have been Zig Ziglar - [and] they said, when you are in the car on the way to work that's like going to college. You get a certain amount of time each day when you can learn.
I was thinking, ‘crikey, I've got all of this time of planes and I am wasting it when I could actually be learning'. So, I decided I was going to track two things - one was the financial industry - fairly obvious. I'm in it. How to make money for clients and how do you have personal growth in the financial side of the business.
But then I also decided to study the health side of the business. No point in making loads money then dying. That would be silly. I've read all the books on the health industry and of course there are a million different opinions. But then checked them for my own body. So yeah, a little of craziness in there, but I've actually gone ‘what can I learn how can I try and get peak performance?' How can I optimize?
You are very much a self-analytical person. Do you see this as an important part of the job?
Ooooh, ha ha ha! That is a tough question. Yes, I am very self-analytical. I spend time on my own fairly obviously by the job that I do. But I've always been self-analytical. Yes, I think it is important to know what motivates you.
Some people don't know how to motivate themselves. I think you need to know how to get yourself into top gear and how to motivate yourself. But it also helps if you understand the other side as well. What depresses you. [Me?] Chelsea losing. That depresses me by the way but then, I know. Every football fan knows what that it is like.
I know what things in life really do get me down and what things really do motivate me. So analyising yourself and knowing how to get yourself in the right mindset, constantly is important.
Today we are filming. How do you make sure that you are in the right zone? How do you sleep the night before when you know Gary is going to be grilling you the next day right?
If you are playing for Manchester United and you are going to play the next day, OK, you've got 60,000 people screaming at you. Maybe 3m people watching on the TV. How do you sleep the night before?
That is part of peak performance to me. People always go, "he didn't perform". But did he sleep the night before? What is going on in his life? How do you get yourself in the zone and how do we expect that person to just be in the zone all of the time?
It is not easy is it? For any of us. For a footballer, for me and for you. Knowing yourself and being able to analyse yourself so that you can perform when the pressure is on is a vital part of life.
Video and interview by Gary Robinson