Iraj Ispahani profile in FT Wealth

5 May 2017
Source: FT Wealth

Why a 200-year-old family business is writing its own constitution.

Iraj Ispahani and I meet for the first time, appropriately enough, for afternoon tea at the Royal Automobile Club…

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Events & Media

Ispahani Advisory & Withers LLP roundtable

Political risk minimisation: A roadmap for wealth and business owners

Hussein Haeri – Withers LLP

Guest speaker:  Hussein Haeri

Click here to read more on the white paper written by Hussein Haeri of Withers, Iraj Ispahani and Philip Marcovici on political risk minimisation.

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Margaret Casely-Hayford appointed as Chair of Shakespeare's Globe

Source: Shakespeare’s Globe

The Board of Shakespeare’s Globe has appointed Margaret Casely-Hayford as its new Chair. The Globe is recognised internationally as the authority on Shakespeare’s work in performance. Its operation includes the iconic Globe Theatre, candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, exhibition and tour, as well as extensive education resources and research. Commercial and development activities contribute to the organisation’s £27 million turnover, which continues to operate without annual public subsidy. Margaret Casely-Hayford takes over from Lord Bichard, who has served three years as Chair and ten years as a Trustee.

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$4tn wealth transfer sparks battle for kids of the rich

Source: FT Wealth
“One of the concerns many wealth managers are trying to address today is leakage arising from the transition of wealth between generations,” says Iraj Ispahani, chief executive of Ispahani Advisory and a 10th-generation member of the Ispahani group, which began in 1820 as a supplier of tea to the British empire. “The Next Gen does not want their custom taken for granted. They are more disruptive, less concerned about historic family loyalty to a company, are price conscious and will shop around. How advice is made available to them is really important. Online digital delivery is more important than the personal high touch of the traditional wealth manager/private banker their parents are probably used to.”

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Iraj Ispahani addresses Family Business Club at Imperial University in London

Source: Imperial College Business School

The Family Business Club was delighted to welcome Mr. Iraj Ispahani, Director of a 197-year-old family business, for its final event of the year. It was a highly interactive evening with Iraj speaking about his considerable experience both in banking as well as in his family business.

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Brexit: What worries Europe’s richest

Source: Financial Times

Yet when the levy was first introduced in 2008-09, suggestions it would lead to an exodus of the rich from UK shores proved largely unfounded. In fact, just under 120,000 non-doms were registered in the UK for the tax year 2013-14 — 1,500 more than the previous year.

Whether they might move even further afield remains a moot point.

“Clearly Singapore is an important centre for wealth in Asia and other jurisdictions have their attractions,” says Iraj Ispahani, chief executive of Ispahani Advisory. “But the UK is not viewed simply as a jurisdiction. Here you have the rule of law, political stability, the quality of the education — and the general quality of life all round that is available. People actually enjoy living and working here, so I think the pull to the UK remains.”

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Shakespeare’s Globe elects Lord Bichard as Chair and two new Deputies

Shakespeare’s Globe elects The Lord Bichard of Nailsworth KCB as Chair of Shakespeare’s Globe. He was previously Deputy Chair. His appointment follows the decision by The Rt. Hon. The Lord Falconer of Thoroton to step down, having completed three years in the role, as he continues his position as Shadow Minister of Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor. He will remain a Trustee of Shakespeare’s Globe.

Two new Deputy Chairs have also been elected: Emma Stenning, Chief Executive of Bristol Old Vic, and Iraj Ispahani, CEO of Ispahani Advisory Ltd, and Board Member of MM Ispahani Ltd, the 195-year old family company, headquartered in Bangladesh. Iraj also serves as a Senior Director at Oliver Wyman & Co and an Advisory Board Member of Seeing is Believing, the reversible blindness collaboration between Standard Chartered Bank and the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

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Global and local HR

Source: Financial Times

“Big companies that have been operating globally for a while will have standard policies for areas such as mobility of staff, especially where this is seen as a talent draw,” says Iraj Ispahani, a talent management expert at Ispahani Advisory.

Only a small elite at the top executive level may be able to command high salaries and benefits irrespective of where they are working. Most employees will be compensated according to local conditions.

“In a competitive market, companies won’t offer more than they have to and pay will be set according to the prevailing rates. Companies will pay what they need to so as to attract and retain talent in that particular market. But if pensions aren’t usually offered, companies won’t offer them,” says Mr Ispahani.

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The terrors of talent show techniques

Source: Financial Times

“A mix of methods allows those people who are more reticent – or don’t want to be seen as shouting over someone else who is more dominant – to articulate their own ambitions and say things they wouldn’t say in the group exercises,” he says.

“Group exercises can show creative thinking and collaborative behaviours. Teamwork can be interpreted as people getting on, but it is about people working well together to achieve better results for a client or organisation.”

Group interviews also take forward the idea of open days, allowing companies to interact with a greater number of potential candidates in these days of “impersonal websites with barely any human touch”, Mr Ispahani says.

“We see group interviews as a concept much in use in the US, where there is a more fluid job market on a larger scale, so the efficiency gains that can be realised might be greater.”


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Drawing up a low-risk escape Plan

Source: Financial Times

The notion of escape to a completely new life is highly romanticised, says Iraj Ispahani, a talent management expert at Ispahani Advisory, a business strategy advice firm. “There may be a brief respite but no escape,” he says.

“There are many more ways to self-manage and develop a career than in the past and I would recommend that people are clear about what they want. There is a range of things one can do, from building a crocodile sanctuary and other one-off, gap-year experiences, to making a mid-career transition and becoming a chief financial officer in a start-up.”

He refers to the early 2000s when many professionals left large companies to join start-ups. “Companies were not as flexible and much more prescriptive then. Now, there are more opportunities to pursue a work-life balance,” he says.

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Size matters in a banking career

Source: Financial Times

Anyone looking to start or develop a career in international banking, needs to consider the difference the size of a bank makes.

The advantages of a large institution might include opportunities for travel, acquiring a broad range of skills or specialisation, rapid promotions, and movement between departments. But smaller banks might offer an even broader range of opportunities for learning and experience and the chance of greater responsibility

Iraj Ispahani says people have to think hard about what they are looking for at a bank.
“If you want to work in investment banking, where the provision of credit is very important to your client, then you are best advised to work in a large bank,” he says.

“If you want to do pure advisory work, then mid-sized advisory houses are for you, because they have less bureaucracy and are for the most motivated and most agile. We’re seeing a lot of talented people leaving the the City to do this.”

Organisations with a large internal network offering opportunities for rotation were good for those people wanting to develop their international banking career, he says.

“Learning opportunities are greater in big companies because there are more people to learn from but you have to make sure your team leader takes an interest in mentoring you.”

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The hiring process goes on...and on...

Source: Financial Times

The interview process for people changing jobs has lengthened considerably in the past five years. Successful candidates spend an average of seven hours either preparing for, or taking part in, interviews – an increase of 1.5 hours over that period.

The figures come from a poll by Randstad, the recruitment business, that also found almost 7 per cent of the 2,000 people surveyed spent more than 20 hours preparing for and attending interviews that resulted in a job offer.

Iraj Ispahani says: “One has to distinguish between the level of hiring. At executive level, then clearly more stakeholders need to be involved, so companies are right to take time to get the best talent. It’s not just about skills but about fitting into the culture so more time might be needed.

“In terms of identifying a better fit, the use of psychometrics is fairly standard and can help if used appropriately to make better decisions more quickly,” says Mr Ispahani. “But taking time can be good for candidates and can prevent businesses making expensive mistakes.

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Due diligence: Questions are vital before making a leap

Source: Financial Times

Iraj Ispahani says candidates should also be aware that the missions of organisations can change. He gives the example of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which has widened its operations from central Europe to encompass North Africa and central Asia.

“Due diligence is as important as for any start-up or new financial organisation. People can only execute on things if the funding is in place,” he says. “From the candidate’s perspective, getting something done in these organisations often requires an enterprising streak. If you’ve been a creature of a large bank for too long, you have to think hard about how self-reliant you really are.”

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Real reasons to cheer on Bangladesh

Source: The Daily Star

Bangladesh looks like the kind of frontier market that gives frontier markets a bad name. In 2010, the Dhaka stock market was one of the best performing in the world…

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The hunt for new talent is gathering pace

Source: Financial Times

The traditional spring season in UK banking made a flying start this year, with firms on the look out for new talent, pay rising and employees who sat tight during the financial crisis now thinking of moving on.

Many of the banks that cut back during the downturn have to rebuild themselves and hire staff, says Iraj Ispahani.
Sectors such as leveraged finance and investment management, which were quick to cut jobs when stock markets fell, are hiring again as markets recover.

New regulations forcing banks to create new types of jobs is also driving the market. “Functions such as risk and compliance have become much more central in all big banks. That has meant more demand for business leadership and commercial skills in technical areas where they have not been developed before,” says Mr Ispahani.

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Summer shopper's guide

Source: IR Magazine

The new products aisle where he finds, Cantos, enteraction tv, and MultexIR as well as a new generation of XML-based services.

Broadband is the next big thing, and leading the way – at least in the UK and continental Europe – is Raw Communications. The London-based firm has made its name pumping broadband video to special terminals at financial firms, signing up around 70 top institutions worldwide. Whether you’re a brokerage analyst trumpeting your morning recommendations or a CEO with a message to get off your chest, RAWfinancial/broadband delivers high bandwidth video around the world, past firewalls and onto the PCs of investment decision-makers.

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