Alastair Constance: “We beat the street on exchange rates”


Alastair Constance

Role and company

Founder/Director Ethical Currency

Employee numbers

Four full time in London and three full time in Hong Kong.

Growth forecast for the next three years?

180 per cent

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:

Ethical Currency is the first FX brokerage to voluntarily adopt a Tobin Tax, which it pays from its own profits on every trade. We beat the street on exchange rates meaning our clients save significant money on their international currency trades and payments whilst doing the world some good.

What’s the big vision for your business?

Financial sector reform and making money a force for good in the world. As consumers, clients and businesspeople wake up to the social value that business could and should have, shouldn?t the financial sector be included? It?s a grand idea but all change has to begin somewhere.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations:

We have an office in Hong Kong and are looking at additional jurisdictions to expand into. The Far East is a mind-blowingly exciting opportunity. Money is a great thing in the sense that it is truly international and we can provide our bank-beating service anywhere and everywhere. All we need is good people, technology and local licensing – and we?re off.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:

A previous employer reneged on commissions owed to me. At the time it would have been a life-changing sum of money but the upside is that I left that company to start my own. I?ve never looked back.

What makes you mad in business today?

Unnecessary costs from large corporations. I feel that huge companies have lost the human touch and they charge too much for bad service. I hope that smaller companies are allowed to enter the market and improve on cost and service to continue making business easier to do.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

I believe that the nature of money is changing. I?ve been a big supporter of Bitcoin and hope that in time either Bitcoin or similarly robust currencies begin to get real traction globally. They are a faster, more efficient way to move money than using old international settlements systems and I believe it is only a matter of time until using them makes life better.

Can businesses in your sector access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?

Yes but only from private investors or PE and VC firms. Business lending, especially to firms without large infrastructure or an emphasis on physical assets, struggle to find finance in the traditional way. There are always people out there looking to invest in great companies with big growth potential. You may just need a bit of luck finding them.

How would others describe your leadership style?

I?d like to think I?m very democratic. I wouldn?t ask anyone to do a job I wouldn?t be prepared to do myself and I consult with all parties when we?re designing new looks or technology. I think a collaborative effort that involves staff, clients and colleagues will ultimately get the best results.

Your biggest personal extravagance?

I?m not really extravagant. I probably spend too much on books.

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