Getting to know you: David Johnson

What do you currently do?
I am the director at Halo Financial with responsibility for AML (anti-money laundering) compliance and for the Corporate Client Division. As with all medium sized businesses though, the directors are involved in most aspects of the company’s functions to a greater or lesser extent.

What is your inspiration in business?
The things that inspire me are often those which you least expect to encounter; the small business punching above its weight, or the company which ostensibly looks like a global brand and yet is run by half a dozen people in one small office. As a company working with a wide range of corporate clients, we encounter a plethora of business types at Halo Financial and I never cease to be impressed and amazed by the niches that people have identified and then developed in innovative ways.

Who do you admire?
I admire entrepreneurs who take an existing company and develop it into a significant player within a specific industry, those who start from scratch and build a profitable company with a solid moral compass and I admire those who are brave enough to do their own thing, even when that may seem an odd choice.

Looking back are there things you would have done differently?
Had I been more aware of the potential, I would have found a way into the financial services industry much earlier in my career. However, I tend to be a little fatalist with these thoughts because, had I done so, I may not have met the people I have, (including my wife), and my career and life path would have been very different. I hope it doesn’t sound complacent, but I like my life and have enjoyed the life I have lived even with all the challenges, so wanting to change anything would seem a peculiar choice.

What defines your way of doing business?
This sounds like a terrible cliché but I aim to do business with a core principle of treating clients and colleagues fairly. I hope that by providing our services in the customer focused way that we do, we really do make people’s lives better. Both our corporate and private client teams spend a lot of time educating clients in the ways of the foreign exchange market and helping them avoid risk and the many and varied pitfalls they would otherwise encounter. We obviously hope that, at the end of that process, we do business with the client, they save money and we make a profit, but the process starts with a lot of investment of our time and expertise. I like that – our staff develop because of it and we find our clients like it too.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?
I would say concentrate on delivering excellent service because that is what people will remember you for and is what will build your brand. I would also advise them to get really good financial help from day one. If you are on top of the financials, you can plan, invest and cut costs as necessary and do it in a timely fashion. Without that handle on the day to day finances, you absolutely will have more sleepless nights. I would also urge them to play to their strengths; know what you are good at and recruit specialists to do the things that they do better than you. Finally, I would suggest you get very good references for any outsourced resources you use. If you are not an expert at IT for example, it is very easy to use the wrong company or fail to be specific enough about your service requirements.