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60 second interview with Richard Fagan, VG

1 August 2019

April French Furnell

In our 60 second interview series, Citywealth speaks to Richard Fagan, Director at VG, an independent provider of fiduciary and administration solutions based in Jersey, about being flexible to the ways in which clients want to work and allowing employees to make mistakes, as long as they learn from them.

Tell me about your role.

My role is mainly business development and all that this encompasses.

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

My day always starts before I get into the office as I check messages first thing. With clients all over globe there are often messages that arrive during the night and, in the days of varied communications be it WhatsApp, text, LinkedIn or traditional emails, we are ‘always on’ which has both benefits and disadvantages as, while it means I can work with our clients in the way it suits them, it also makes it very hard to switch off. Devices go on holiday too.

I get called into high-level client matters regularly by our private client team but am mainly focused on our business development efforts. As part of this I do a significant amount of travel, to the UK, Europe and Middle East and this variety keeps me on my toes.

 

Tell us about interesting client instructions.

Recently we have established a Jersey foundation focused on the promotion of mosque architecture across the globe which will be very interesting to be involved in. I am seeing an increase in clients seeking to establish philanthropic structures and I suspect this will continue to gain traction in the coming years.

 

What challenges do your clients face and how are you helping your clients to overcome them?

The different time zones, working weeks and holiday seasons can present a real challenge for both clients and advisers but the multiplicity of communications each have their own attractions and they certainly help. They mean we can almost always be available which helps us get close to and really get to know and understand our clients and the way they like to work. As the relationship develops we are able to provide bespoke services, communicating with them in the way they prefer, at the time they prefer, and I find that this ability to be flexible is something that clients really respond well to.

 

What is your proudest professional achievement?

I was part of the success of a smaller business, which grew organically for over 20 years. During that time we provided stable employment and a very happy working environment which resulted in very low staff turnover. We had hard working dedicated employees which is something I am really proud of particularly as I still work with some of those people today. We are in a people business and both staff and clients are equally important. Both need each other.

 

What do you consider to be the most important attributes for a leader?

Listening is one that continues to be underused. I believe in the saying that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason and often listening can be instructive in terms of what needs to be done. I also subscribe to the view that leaders should allow employees to make mistakes, as long as they learn from them. This happened to me many years ago when I was at the start of my career and I’ve never forgotten it...

 

Who do you most admire and why?

In terms of who, I most admire, that’s a difficult question. Roger Federer is certainly someone I admire. Arguably the greatest tennis player of all time. How he has stayed at the top of his game for so long is unbelievable but the way in which he has carried himself in the public spotlight for so long is also admirable.

 

Where was the last place you travelled to for work or pleasure?

I travel frequently for work, but most recently I went to Edinburgh for my daughter’s graduation which was obviously a really proud day for the whole family. And the sun was out too.

 

If you weren’t in the wealth management industry, what else might you be doing?

Assuming I’d still be living in Jersey it’s hard to ignore the fact that we are surrounded by the sea so with reality completely suspended; maybe it would be running a beach café. I once thought of doing exactly that, but one where we would employ adults and young people with difficulties; recently a business along those lines was opened in our town centre and this seems to be a huge success which has been wonderful to see. I pop in occasionally for lunch.

 

How do you relax after a long day?

Probably nothing dramatically different from many people living and working in Jersey. I tend to be seated for a good proportion of my working day so after catching up with my family I will try to do something active; usually this entails walking, cycling, playing golf or occasionally sea swimming. Otherwise I like to follow a variety of sports so I might simply see what’s on the Sports channels. 

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