Connect 2015 member Suresh Mistry of Alquity on how to make Fearlessness live
It’s easy not to fail. Just keep your head down, take the easy path and hey presto, you will probably get along just fine. So, why doesn’t that sound appealing? At Connect, one of the most powerful messages we received was about being aware of the ripples from our actions. Taking this analogy a little further, to create a ripple you must first have the courage to throw the stone. Letting go of the stone means that you have to be prepared to fail. My experience is that the fear of failure is the greatest barrier to success in any aspect of life.
At Alquity, our business model armed us with plenty of stones but we needed to build a team capable of throwing them. We had hired young, talented individuals but with limited industry experience and some straight out of university. It was a steep learning curve for them and for us. To release their energy and creativity, we enshrined Fearlessness as a core value alongside Feedback, Learning and Ubuntu. Ubuntu is an African word meaning “I am because we are”. It is about much more than just teamwork, but identity and a collective responsibility for each other.
So, how do we make Fearlessness live?
First, we encourage all our team to speak out and to speak freely when they have an idea or want to challenge the status quo.
Second, Fearlessness extends to our investment policies – whilst our fund managers are hugely experienced, they often use this experience to invest in a very different way from traditional fund managers. This is illustrated by the approach we take to ESG – Environmental, Social and Governance – analysis that sits at the core of our investment decision-making, delivering long-term value creation for investors and society as a whole.
Thirdly, Alquity is Fearless about our belief that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed. We call this part of our values system Transforming Lives. Wherever in the world we pursue profit, we put something back – by donating up to 25% of our management fees to support local entrepreneurs in getting small businesses off the ground. It doesn’t just feel good – it’s good for our investors because, over time, it boosts local economies where we invest and is sure to have a positive effect on how our funds perform. This is not, as you might guess, the traditional sort of messaging you might expect from a top flight investment manager – but we have conceived and continue to build a new kind of investment business that is as uncompromising about the social change we wish to support as we are about the hard-nosed financial decisions we make.
Of course, it’s not all about our investment culture. It’s also about our people. We wanted to meet our fears head on – so we asked the team to select some big challenges that we could overcome and learn from together. After some deliberation, our first challenge was to run a marathon.
It was important for us that we supported the team with the training and support to achieve the challenge. We hired a marathon coach, and as well as training collectively, buddied up so that we spurred each other on to train at home. Our Sales Manager, based in Hong Kong, also trained alone spurred on by the rest of the team. We all ran the Medoc Marathon on 9th September 2013. I still remember the mood just before we set off… nervous, determined and together. I can truly say that day we became a team.
Since then we have overcome Tough Mudder (a 12-mile, military assault course dubbed “the world’s toughest event” and that’s the photo of us half way round, above) and at the end of last year we took on what I think was out toughest challenge yet… we learned to sing. The challenge was to record a single that we would send out to all our clients as our company Christmas greeting. Check out the results here.
So has it worked? While as a business we are still in our early years, the culture is strong and every time we present a challenge (business or otherwise) the overwhelming response is “Bring it on”. My biggest challenge is meeting the thirst for challenge, a nice problem to have.
Written by Suresh Mistry, Group Sales Director, Alquity
MORE ABOUT ALQUITY:
Alquity is a different type of investment management company – one fuelled by innovation, passion and a drive to change the world. Our investment approach is based on a firm conviction that wherever in the world we pursue profit, we should also put something back. The approach is called the Alquity Virtuous Circle.
It’s a new concept in investment management designed to achieve three things:
- To produce attractive returns through investment in exciting emerging and frontier markets. We have five funds covering Africa, Asia, Indian Subcontinent, and Latin America, and a global fund called Future World.
- To encourage and promote the use of responsible investment practices through the company’s forward-looking Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) selection process. Not just for ethical reasons, but because these factors can all have a positive effect on profitability, as well as helping to manage risk.
- To transform lives by providing a proportion of revenues as microfinance in the areas where the company invests. This encourages entrepreneurship, which helps to create jobs and grow local economies. Theses donations come from Alquity’s fees and so does not reduce investors’ returns.
Alquity has 20 employees with the head office based in London and a sales office in Hong Kong.
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