Role and company:
Chairman of ActivTrades Plc, an online brokerage and system trading company
Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):
£16.7m for 2012
95 as per statutory accounts for 2012, currently around 120.
Growth forecast for the next three years:
25-30 per cent approximately
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:
Customer focus and innovation are key. Every product brought to the market is aimed at improving our clients’ trading experience. We are the first broker able to hold client funds to set up an insurance policy that protects client deposits. Our Rewards Programme is also unique in our industry.
What’s the big vision for your business?
The Foreign Exchange is the biggest market in the world, making the combined equities markets look small by comparison. With stock markets failing to perform, more investors are beginning to see the potential that the Forex market can offer. Ensuring your clients want to come back and continue to do business with you is crucial, and there are two elements to the customer service you need to consider here: peace of mind and incentives.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations:
We are one of the biggest players in Western Europe, namely in Germany and Italy, where we are leaders in innovation. We are making a great effort to reach South America and the Middle East, which we believe will be key markets in the near future.
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:
Definitively at the end of the 90s, when commissions in the DMA traded instruments shrank over 90 per cent. I had to review my entire business model in order to stay profitable as an IB. I learned that the best route was to serve thousands of customers simultaneously, and this is what drove me towards founding ActivTrades.
What makes you mad in business today?
I have the feeling that morals play a smaller role nowadays. The word “gentleman” in “gentleman’s agreement” often has little meaning anymore. Nevertheless, I hope a new generation of entrepreneurs will revive good old values.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?
The online boom will continue, the number of traders will increase exponentially and they will require more services along with new sophisticated trading tools. It will be important to understand and anticipate the requests of our clients. We are already working on it and will be prepared to deliver what our traders want, bringing them innovation in trading services and new products.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?
It is true that due to the financial crisis, it is more difficult for businesses to gain access to credit whether this be by loan or by venture capital. However, in our sector, venture capitalists are always looking for opportunities.
How would others describe your leadership style?
I consider myself to be a strong, determined individual and I believe I can bring the best out of those who work with me. Having a strong team and believing in them is what makes a successful entrepreneur. For me it is really important to make my team aware of our future prospects; they need to trust in the project and be a part of it.
Your biggest personal extravagance?
I follow a very strict and balanced diet, including anti-inflammatory dishes such as fish and avocado, to suit my daily physical workout. To always be at 100 per cent your mind must go with your body.By Shané Schutte
Share this story