On behalf of David Ferguson, CEO

    There are four quadrants to building a great business, but complacently listing 'building trust' among them is where some of our esteemed institutions have got it so wrong...

    The accelerated emergence of transparency has gouged our financial institutions.

    Most of them (and I mean in the widest societal sense) are talking about how to rebuild trust. The truth is they never had it. It was actually ignorance, complacently misread as trust.

    This hugely fuels the start-up vibe, which is not purely a factor of scale. There are shockingly bad small companies and there are wonderful large companies.

    The vibe is a factor of caring and one of culture and consists of four quadrants: a refreshing purpose; a questioning mind; a complete lack of fear; and a relentless persistence - each of which must be wrapped up in a great culture which reflects durable values.

    A clear purpose and a sense of responsibility to fulfill it

    In Google's case, this is to organise the world's data. That's a big purpose, but it's also clear.

    Most big companies' sole purpose is to nudge up the share price so the management makes more money.

    The good news for start-ups is that businesses with a shallow purpose are going backwards, left, right and centre. No-one under the age of 30 wants to work for a company like that. And so the cycle of decline continues.

    The great thing about having purpose is that it is open-ended. Google's purpose has set it a perpetual challenge and I imagine no-one who works there isn't excited by that. Google is a very big company.

    Great companies and especially those that emerge from start-up never lose sight of their purpose.

    A questioning mind and a hunger for change

    Why does it work like that? Why is no-one doing XYZ properly? Why should fund groups buy distribution via providers? What if they were just good at what they do?

    This is entirely a people and culture thing. You must create the space, respect the learning curve, cultivate ambition and then hope for the best. If you get it right it's a massive edge and it must then run through hiring, induction and day-to-day management of the business. People in smaller companies always know why they are there and why they do what they do.

    Preserving that as we grow is a vital component of success.

    A complete lack of fear

    If you have nothing then you have nothing to lose. And if you have purpose then you have nothing to fear.

    In 2007 I was more worried about spending £80 on a shredder than by fund supermarkets getting their heads around the changing landscape.

    The hideous truth: it is easy to stand out in this industry if you love the customer. What's to fear about that?

    A relentless persistence and the passion of the founders

    I say to everyone that joins Nucleus that they should aim to work in a start-up one day and I would recommend the same to everyone reading this. Everyone can learn that there are no real barriers to progress.

    The share price of firms where the founder remains in-situ outperform those where the founder has departed.

    Where someone has put their career or their house or their relationship on the line to start a business, they are likely to have developed a great persistency, because it really mattered.

    Getting everyone to believe that this really matters is a great asset.

    That is the start‐up vibe.


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