A couple of weeks ago I got off the Tube one stop earlier than normal so I could walk past old landmarks that I hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years. Past the old café where I used to get my lunch, past Morningstar’s office where I would see the great and the good wander in for their grilling and past my old office where Gemini first started in January 2009. Many happy memories came flooding back as I stood in front of the space that used to be the office, now flattened and a hotel built in its place. An office that was my brother’s, who very kindly offered me rent-free space to build something that I could call my own. Initially opposite him, I very quickly had to move rooms, as he was somewhat loud on the phone, often screaming at his engineers for some failing or other. Some years later we moved back together in the same office, but he had mellowed by then… unless I asked a stupid IT question. It would take another few years before we had our own office shortly followed by our first office in Dublin, but we were ambitious as to where we wanted to get to.
Time has flown by and it’s amazing that we have celebrated 13 years as a UK business, 10 years as a funds platform and five years as a UCITS Management Company, and we still have ambitions to build on our overall proposition and strategy; something that I discussed later that day with an old friend, Tony Stenning, who now runs Atlantic House Group. AHG run one of the largest funds on our platform and they have been there pretty much there since the Irish business took off. We were talking about how our respective businesses were going and what makes us different. Not unsurprisingly we had some common themes, mainly around solution provision: AHG around fund solutions and GemCap around providing the risk solution. We took different paths to get to where we are today but had similar ambitions. There is no doubting AHG’s ambitions and we are pleased to be part of that.
However, if you had asked me 13 years ago whether I wanted to work in a risk solution business, I would have asked what you had been drinking! No way, I was in Distribution, and we were rather good at it; just ask some of the past clients. But times change, situations change, people change and ultimately businesses evolve and develop because of these changes. 10 years ago, we initially changed to meet the requirements of a particular manager which at the time was run by a good friend Nitin Rakesh, who is now doing rather well over at Mphasis. He needed a UCITS solution whilst at Motilal Oswal and we helped him create the first fund on the platform. As time progressed, we changed again as we grew; we felt the need to have boots on the ground and create a business of substance that is now run by Conor Hoey in Dublin.
Why am I sharing this? Well, simply to show that any business that starts in a particular way and is still doing the same thing the same way 10 years down the line is a rare beast and, I would argue, not necessarily a good-natured beast. Companies must evolve as markets change, and situations arise that may cause the individuals to change. Life and business, after all, is an evolution. We learn from our mistakes and oh, boy, have I made a few over the last 13 years. I still make some now! There are situations that I would change but we are all where we are, based on the decisions we made some time ago and where we all end up will be based on the decisions we make today. We often find ourselves at life’s roundabouts and we decide to either go forward, left or right. Whichever decision we make at any given time is based on the knowledge we had at that time. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Luck is also a more wonderful thing. I have had my fair share of people telling me “if only” and I have had my fair share of luck over the years. Either way, I have no regrets. I continue to work in an amazing industry, working with and meeting some very talented people. At GemCap we never forget where we have come from, and we never forget who helped us get there. Without them we would still be thinking about doing something rather than actually doing it.
So, to all the entrepreneurs out there, I salute you – but never forget who helped you get the success you have or will have. Memories can be fleeting but you have created them. Be proud of what you have achieved and continue to enjoy that for as long as you can and remember to embrace change, as it is all about you growing.