Interviews

Transparency, trust and team: The 3 Ts leading to international business growth

7 min read

08 November 2018

Deputy Editor, Real Business

Mayfair FX's Jessal Shah, the latest edition to the Founders Diaries series, unveils his mission to increase transparency in the FX marketplace.

Since co-creating Mayfair FX, Jessal Shah’s role has evolved to include ensuring international expansion goals are met. But no matter what his role in the company may become – he already dons many hats, that of co-founder and CEO – he’ll always emphasise the importance of transparency, trust and team.

These are the foundations of any good business but are paramount in companies that aspire to change perceived negative views their industry may have garnered. Here, Shah unveils plans to open the discussion of hidden margin costs – and how he’ll project this message worldwide.

Founder: Jessal Shah
Company: Mayfair FX
Website: www.mayfairfx.com

Your legacy:

Our aim is to make foreign exchange transfers transparent. The end goal of this is to help businesses grow quicker, by utilising the savings made compared to using a bank, to invest more into the growth of their business.

Our growth is directly related to the growth of our clients and therefore the more we are able to assist our clients, the greater direct positive impact it has on our business.

Your business model:

We work with clients to provide them between 50-80% savings on their foreign exchange transfers compared to using a bank. Once clients are registered with us, they can carry out international payments and currency transfer online or over the phone with our FX specialists.

This year the largest area of growth of our business has been assisting businesses planning for their currency exposures and hedging their currency risks.

How do you measure success?

On a technical level success is usually measured on various metrics e.g. profitability and client numbers. But we see our success based on client recommendations. If we can continue to grow through word of mouth and partner referrals, it is a testament we are providing the level service and savings expected.

Our top sales people are our existing clients.

Do you plan to trade globally, enter new markets, etc in the next 12 months?

Our current operations are based in London although we operate internationally. We are presently exploring setting up international operations in different continents to help service our increasingly global client base.

The UK market is quite well served by an array of new fintech and existing financial services firms but this is not necessarily the case across other countries.

We think it is important to continue to spread our message across the globe and setting up a physical international presence will assist us in doing so.

How did you fund your business?

The business was self-funded through savings and is now profitable. Initially, we had explored seed and angel funding. However, after long consideration, we believed having no outside shareholders will allow us to maintain our independence and push our core values in the direction we had set our sights on.

In five years:

The financial services industry is currently experiencing a large level of disruption by new fintech companies which are fulfilling gaps the existing incumbents could not deliver upon. In the next five years, I believe there will be a raft of takeovers and consolidation by existing financial services firms whilst they play catch up.

We would hope to continue our mission to increase transparency in the FX marketplace as well as being the market leader in helping clients manage their currency exposures.

Your highest point…

Finding out a currency strategy we put in place for a client helped to ensure the survival of their business. The business is now thriving.

Your lowest point…

Being frivolous with business spending in the first few years. Costs need to be tightly managed to give yourself the best chance of deploying resource when required to win business from the banks.

What would tell your younger self?

Stay focused and dedicated. To master your field you need to keep striving to be the best.

Your policy wish list:

Free trade globally – a world without barriers to trade creates tremendous opportunities.

Your biggest piece of advice to other entrepreneurs…

Most businesses fail due to lack of revenue, which is ultimately correlated to sales. Even if you have the best product or service in the world, if you are not selling, your message will not reach your target audience. Never give up no matter how hard you’ve tried.

Guilty pleasure:

Travelling the world and experiencing new cultures.

What would make you a better leader?

Being surrounded by those more intelligent, not to mention increased delegation of duties.

The one app you use the most…

Linkedin.

A day in your life…

The day always starts off with a visit to the gym at 6.30am and I’m usually in the office by 8am. During the first hour, we usually go over the numbers of the previous evening and then run through any important matters, present and upcoming.

I’m then off to meet our introducer partners e.g. accountants, solicitors, property agents, corporate finance houses by 10.30am and return to the office by 3pm.

Next up is to run through any operational activities with bringing onboard new partners. By 5.30pm we run through the numbers of the day and then finally a closing day meeting with my business partner. I tend to leave the office by 7pm to spend time with family and friends.

A balanced work life routine is paramount to a successful happy career.

On your reading list right now…

  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight,
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel,
  • Principle by Ray Dalio.

On your watch list right now…

  • Succession,
  • Billions,
  • Silicon Valley.