Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Let's Get Down to Business: Gary Reynolds, Courtiers

Let's Get Down to Business: Gary Reynolds, Courtiers

GARY REYNOLDS, 61, is a main board director and chief investment officer at Courtiers in Hart Street, Henley. He was one of the four people who set up the business in 1982 and in 2004 he and chief executive Jamie Shepperd became the sole partners. Gary was born in North London and moved to Reading with his family when he was aged five. Now he lives in Crazies Hill with his wife Cath, a retired civil servant who was awarded an OBE for her part in bringing the 2012 Olympic Games to the UK. They have two grown-up sons, Seb and Jake, and two rescue dogs, Jazz and Barley. Jake is a quantitative
analyst and data scientist at Courtiers. Gary is passionate about rugby and chief executive of Rams RFC, a National 2 club based in Sonning.

Describe your business

We are a wealth and asset management company tailoring strategies specifically to support the financial goals of individuals, families and organisations.

How many people does it employ?

We have 90 employees of which 50 are located at our head office here in Henley and the rest at our offices in Witney, Derby and Weston-super-Mare.

What did you do before you started this business?

I left school at 16 with five O-levels and joined Friends Provident and Century. Later, I moved to Hogg Robinson, which was an excellent company to work for, before helping to set up this business in 1982. I enjoy statistics and analysis.

What was your objective?

To control my own destiny. By then I was qualified and there was a lot of opportunity to set up integrated “final salary” pension schemes.

Who or what influenced you?

I don’t think anybody did — I could see the potential.

Do you have a mentor or role model?

Bill Mitchell, who was branch manager at Friends Provident and Century, and Hamish Ritchie and Mike Painter at Hogg Robinson all had a big influence on me and gave me good advice at the right time.

What would you do differently if you started again?

That’s a difficult question. I was only 24 when the business started so it’s not easy to recall how I thought then compared with now.

How is your business doing?

We’ve been going and growing well. We have developed an acquisition model and we look for smaller, like-minded businesses that we feel would fit in with our own culture.

How do you market your business?

Social media plays a part, of course, and we have an excellent website. However, a great deal of new clients come from referrals.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

Freedom. The ability to decide where you want the business to go.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

It’s very difficult to turn off as it’s really 24/7 but I’ve found watching sports, as I do regularly, provides a great distraction. It’s not possible to think about anything else other than the game when you’re watching your team play — even though that can be stressful too!

Where is your business headed?

We have a target of reaching £1billion of funds under management by 2022.

Do you set goals at the start of the financial year?

Jamie sets the goals and then tells me what they are!


What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?

Peter Widdowson, a family friend, told me many years ago how important it is to surround yourself with good advisors and listen to what they say. He was right!

What would you advise someone starting a business?

Remember, regardless of how much you may love your product or what you do, the reason for being in business is to make money. Otherwise you won’t survive.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?

We are still here so we haven’t done anything too wrong. We did suffer a hit when we hedged our foreign currency exposure in 2008 before the pound collapsed.

What three qualities are most important to success?

Determination... that’s better than an IQ of 200. Attitude trumps aptitude every time. Always knowing the difference between your revenue and costs and delivering a product or service that people want to buy.

What’s the secret of your success?

Surrounding myself with good people. I’ve been lucky in having met the right people at the right time.

How organised are you?

I’m utterly disorganised. I can’t even plan my appointments calendar without screwing up. Thankfully, I have a great PA, Karen, who has kept me out of trouble for the last 11 years.

How do you dress for work each day?

Generally smart casual these days. I do have a suit hanging up in the office if I need to meet a client for the first time. I hardly ever wear a tie.

What can’t you be without every day?

Coffee!

Lunch at your desk or going out?

A mixture.

Do you continue to study?

Yes, I’m currently interested in behavioural finance.

What do you read?

I’m currently about 80 per cent of the way through Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. Dr Jim McWhirter recently recommended I read James Rebanks’s The Shepherd’s Life so that’s next.

How are you planning for retirement?

Cath tells me I’m not going to be allowed to retire but, being married to a civil servant, at least we will have a decent pension. I do want to leave some kind of legacy, which is why I’m so involved in bringing through young rugby players. Cath and I are also involved with Camp Mohawk. I was chairman of the trustees and now she is.

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