A Standing Start
We don’t think that bad things might happen, we know that they do.
Dominic Ryder – CEO
WHERE I STARTED
Coming from a family that were all involved in banking in different ways, I was fully aware of the scope of career that was open to me and in 1987, straight out of school, I made the move to London.
I started at NatWest Bank and by 1993 I was named the youngest corporate banking executive at NatWest markets.
The team I worked with was, without a doubt, one of the most capable and talented in the country. I was recognised as a credit expert, and several members have gone on to become key players in the wider banking sector.
I moved on to find new challenges and became a Global Account Manager at Standard Chartered Bank and then was promoted to Head of Customer Growth in 1998. I learnt a lot during my time there, including the responsibilities of leadership and how to make something out of nothing; two virtues that would become critical to my continued prosperity in the world of finance.
Following successful stints at HSBC and CSS Stellar, in 2006 I moved back to Manchester as CEO of Zeus Partners – a tax and investment business. From a standing start, we worked to become a market sector leader, which we achieved in just 18 months. There were many factors to our success, but in my opinion, the sheer quality and competence of the team was always going to take us above and beyond expectation. The teams unrivalled expertise, amplified by my knowledge of the industry developed market investment opportunities with genuinely lucrative commercial opportunities, thus distinguishing us as a true pioneer of the industry.
Sadly, it was not to last. In 2011, individuals affiliated with Zeus Partners were accused of cheating the public revenue by HMRC. The firm was placed under administration, resulting in company-wide redundancies as well as the threat of prison sentences for those alleged to have orchestrated financial crimes against the state.
THE PERSONAL IMPACT OF CRISIS
Despite our success and relative competence when compared to other industry leaders, our crisis management was underdeveloped.
These accusations set of a chain of events for all of my colleagues but specifically for me, my integrity was challenged, my reputation in tatters and my formerly good name dragged through the mud. Under the strain of being unable to work and provide for my family my marriage fell apart and I was no longer living with my son. I tried to carry on the life I had been living but I couldn’t and ended up in serious debt because of it. I lost everything including some of my friends.
To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘Friendships are like tea bags; you don’t know how strong they are until you put them in hot water’.
I was at rock bottom and I found myself past the point of fighting. My reputation was in tatters, and I’d wasted time and money employing lawyers who were expensive and lacked the necessary expertise. I was, to put it simply, destitute. My epiphany came when I realised that I was down, but not out and I wouldn’t let a false accusation ruin my life or my reputation in an industry I’d committed 27 years of my life to anymore: I refused to be beaten and was determined to clear my name and do right by my family.
In 2018, HMRC’s criminal charges against me and my colleagues were dismissed due to lack of any evidence of wrongdoing.
Despite this, my situation remained relatively unchanged; four years of legal fees had all but bankrupted me, my reputation had been utterly devastated by the press, and I still had the responsibility of contributing to the wellbeing of my family.
I could not bring myself to return to banking and finance and from that point on, I resolved to always pursue my passions – rather than my purse – and if money accompanied them then so be it.
THE FORMATION OF MA-CHANGE
I had to get a job though and so I moved back to London. Britain’s capital will always hold a special place in my heart – my childhood was spent in the North, but I truly grew up in London. It’s not only a city that embodies the pursuit of prosperity and opportunity, but it affords a degree of anonymity, which I welcomed for me and my family after a decade in the heat of the Northern spotlight.
I joined Invicta Capital consulting on the management of tax investments that were in crisis. Although the role was humble in comparison to my previous positions, it allowed me to revitalise the business qualities and skills I knew I possessed.
Nonetheless, my recent experiences had irreparably muddied my confidence. However, all during the time I was being investigated I had been gaining the contacts and learning the skills needed to survive a crisis and I knew there were other people just like me that would find themselves in unnavigable circumstances that would need my contacts, skills and empathy and Material Adverse Change was formed.