Kathleen McLeay, CEO of NCM Fund Services, shares her thoughts on turning 10, reflecting on the decade past and looking to the future.
“10 years - it sounds like a long time but it has flown by which must be a good sign. Henry and I bought out NCM from Noble Group on 30 November 2009 and we have grown from 3 people (and half an accountant) to 27 people and still growing. We have expanded our services from simple regulated operator to cover end-to-end fund administration, depositary and other ancillary fund administration services and now have 3 regulated entities within the group. We have built the business and seen it expand through two referenda, a number of general elections and the “will they won’t they” of Brexit but the unregulated unlisted space has remained, thankfully, largely unaffected. I have learnt a huge amount about developing a business, growing a team and, eventually, of the importance of delegation! In the main it has been a hugely enriching experience albeit not without its challenges.
NCM is privileged in that we work with many entrepreneurial clients who are often on the first step of creating their own fund management entity (albeit hugely experienced in the field) and we can support them through their first and usually subsequent funds. Being able to support a team at the start of their journey is a unique way to build a deep and lasting relationship and earn their trust from the outset. Undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges in any client focussed business is the people and ensuring you have the right team to service clients but also a team that enjoy and are challenged by what they do. From day one it has been imperative that we recruit likeminded individuals who will go the extra mile and grow with the business. Edinburgh is the perfect place for that as we have access to very talented people who rarely want to move city and so we can offer real consistency of service provision (and at a lower cost than recruiting a transient workforce in London). We make no apology for the fact that the NCM interview process is a long one as ability to do the job should almost be a given in most cases and more important for us is to recruit individuals who fit with our culture and pass the “would I be happy to sit next to them on a 4 hour flight” test. We are blessed with a group of dynamic, talented and fun individuals who help ensure not only that our clients receive a top quality service but that 7 Melville Crescent is a good place to spend your working hours. As a CEO the fact that most of the team largely spend more waking hours with their colleagues than with their family means we are passionate about making sure they are looked after and genuinely feel supported and valued. As business grows this is probably one of the hardest challenges but one we endeavour to meet. Finding clients is then less challenging as we benefit hugely from referrals from satisfied existing clients and that links back to a workforce believe in what they are doing and have pride in what they deliver.
The next period will no doubt bring more challenges with a new office move to accommodate the growing team, the impact of Brexit and the ever changing regulatory world in which we operate but I look forward to it.”
Henry Chaplin, Chairman of NCM Fund Services commented, “Buying NCM and persuading Kathleen to stay and run it are the two best things I have done in my commercial life! The change in scale over our first ten years has been huge but the family feel of the team and the clients has remained unchanged and long may that continue.”