Sionic Chairman Tony Solway is one of the UK’s most experienced business leaders. He first appeared in the Mudlark column of The Review, the members’ magazine of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis.
Now, more than a decade later, Mudlark has returned, to ask how much business leadership has changed and what Tony sees ahead for young professionals today, and for firms like Sionic.
Reflecting on his own learnings from leadership over the intervening years, Tony comments:
“Speaking to Mudlark again has been thought-provoking. Obviously, a great deal has changed in the last 12 years. But what I found really interesting is how much remains constant. For example:
- The complexity of financial services markets, both retail and institutional, has grown significantly since the initial creation of London’s modern regulatory structures at ‘big bang’ in 1985.
- Professional regulation is the only way of managing the scope and scale of market activity today. But, whilst absolutely necessary, in my view it has the effect of raising barriers to entry for start-ups and constricts innovation.
- The sanctions associated with regulatory or financial failure now deter investment in the sector, rather than encourage it. This is entirely different from the owner-managed family businesses that were the prevailing structures in broking, investment (and some bigger banks) as I learned my trade in the 1980s.
- The exploitation of technological change has enabled financial services to scale their firms beyond any expectations a generation ago.
- However, I am concerned that today’s corporations remain focused on the individuals within them and treat their needs with equal weight to those of shareholders and customers. Customers may come first, but employees equally so. Every business starts life without any customers, but as a group of like-minded people with a vision: we must never forget that nurturing the same passion in those that come after us requires us to develop them and their talents to continue our success.”
The full original version of this article is published in the February 2020 edition of the CISI members’ magazine, The Review.
Edited version published with permission.
You can download the full article here.