Alex joined Boston in April 2013 as part of the acquisition of business from Isle of Man Financial Trust Limited. Alex was as an Executive Director within the IOMA Group for 3 years.
He has over twenty years’ experience in the Finance industry ranging from banking, credit and investment administration to trust and corporate administration and management. This includes five years as a director of a large trust and corporate service provider on the Island, where he oversaw a considerable portfolio for high net worth individuals and large corporates.
Alex is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (TEP) and holds the Society’s Diploma in International Trust Management. He is also a Member of the Institute of Directors and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
Married with three children most of Alex free time is taken up with various “kid’s clubs” and providing a regular taxi service between football training and matches.
1. What was your earliest ambition?
Whilst I would love to say it was to become a captain of industry, or run my own business, it was in fact to play for my beloved football team, Heart of Midlothian. I found out very early in my football carer that this was not going to happen and realigned my focus to more realistic targets!
2. University or straight to work?
Straight to work. Like all children, I knew better than my parents and whilst going to university would have been something my family would have supported, I wanted to work. From an early age I wanted to be involved in sales and certainly wanted to work closely with people. The thought of sitting behind a desk was just not for me – although I do a lot of that now. I have always been focused on work and I want to ensure that my children, if they take nothing else from me, do the same. That said, I expect them all to go to university.
3. Have you ever had a mentor/role model who made a real difference to your career or is there a person in business you really admire, and if so, why?
I have been very fortunate that throughout my career I have worked with some fantastic people, most of whom have shared their experience and wisdom with me. During my time with Coutts I was placed on the Bank’s mentoring programme, which not only gave me access to one of the Bank’s executives but allowed me to explore areas of business which I may not have ordinarily considered. I am a great believer in spending time with colleagues to consider matters outside of the day to day tasks that we all have to deal with. Not only will this help develop people but it makes work a more interesting place.
4. What was the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?
Learn from your mistakes! As a junior I incorrectly placed a FX trade and lost the business £2,000. I was sent to see the MD and explain my actions. Whilst a “telling off” took place, what happened next has remained with me and will do until I retire. The MD told me “you will make mistakes, we all do, it is what you do after you realise you have made a mistake that counts.
Some people will try to hide it, others will blame someone else. A leader will acknowledge the mistake and share it with others to ensure they learn from the experience. But, most of all, they will continue to take actions and make decisions without the fear of making another mistake.”
5. What was your big career break?
Whilst this may sound slightly odd, my biggest career break was down to being made redundant. At the time, I was very happy in my role, however I was not being stretched and I was very much in a comfort zone. I loved my job and I was fortunate to work with a collection of great people. Following the news, I was tasked with transferring the business to Jersey and I had to quickly learn a whole lot of new skills. After this, I took on my first Directorship in 2005 and I haven’t looked back.
6. Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
In my mind you need both. If you have the talent but lack the ambition you may go unnoticed. If you have the ambition and get noticed you need the talent to back it up. I don’t feel that these need to be in equal measure, but I believe you can help bring people on as far as their talent is concerned. I think it is harder to help drive their ambition.
7. What ambitions do you still have?
There are lots of things I want to achieve. My top 3 being,
1) I want to strike the perfect balance of home/work life.
2) I want to help take our business to the next level.
3) And I want to go into space and see the curvature of the earth.
I’m pretty sure I will achieve 2 and 3 but I may have to give up on 1.
8. Do you consider your carbon footprint?
This may be a rather unpopular response, but not really. Whilst I accept the argument that collectively we all as individuals can make a difference, unfortunately, until developing countries do more, my potential contribution will not help. I remember being in Hong Kong in the run up to the Olympics in China and for the first time that I can recall I could see blue skies every day. I was then informed that it was only temporary whilst China had closed down a number of industrial plants to help clean up the air.
9. What is your biggest extravagance?
This one is quite easy – wine, whisky, and good food. I love to cook and like to eat out even more. One of the biggest changes to the island in the 23 years I have lived here is the quality of places to eat. From small bistros to fine dining, I think we are fortunate to have so many talented people in this industry – for the record my favourite restaurant is MacFarlane’s.
10. What is your favourite holiday destination?
Hard one. I love Florida and all the theme parks, especially with my kids, but I also enjoy European cities – Paris and Edinburgh being my two “stand out” places to visit. My wife and I are very similar when it comes to holidays and we would rather go somewhere new rather than return to the same place year after year for our summer break. That said, we enjoy a winter break in Spain every year with her family and I love it.
11. If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?
Great question.I’m not sure he would be that surprised with what I have achieved professionally. I have always been driven and focused as far as work is concerned. However, he may wonder what happened to my accent and how I managed to land such a loving and supportive wife.
12. What is your favourite website and why?
www.bbc.com/sport/football/teams/heart-of-midlothian, because it keeps me up to date with my beloved football club. I like Sky News and Sky Go. I don’t buy a daily paper anymore and use my iPad more and more.
13. Which radio station do you most listen to and which UK newspaper is your first choice?
I don’t really listen to the radio. I may have it on in the background around the house and when I do it would normally be Radio 2, my Radio 1 days are far behind me. Only buy a newspaper on a Sunday as it’s the Sunday Times.
14. What else might you have done to earn a living?
Acting, probably action films. Whilst I may not have the talent I have never lacked the confidence.
15. What is your greatest achievement and your greatest disappointment?
Becoming a Director of the Island’s leading provider of trust services. And becoming a dad. I love everything that being a dad involves from reading bedtime stories to providing a taxi service! I don’t do disappointment.
16. What books are on your bedside table or on your tablet?
Ohh the chance to sit down and read a book. I feel likes those days have long gone. Working for such a busy company alone restricts the time one has, but throw three boys and a dog into the mix and, well, I’m sure there are lots of others out there that appreciate were I am coming from. I used to read a lot when I travelled more for work. When you are away for a week or two at a time a good book and a glass of wine helps pass the time on planes and in airports. Thanks to this question, I am now rereading a classic Irvine Welsh novel “Marabou Stork Nightmares”, great book.
17. If there was one thing you could change about the Isle of Man, what would it be?
Its geographical location to somewhere a little warmer. In actual fact, I wouldn’t. I enjoy the seasons and love being outdoors in the rain or the sun. My kids are always happy to be outside and since adding a dog to the family walks have taken on a whole new life. I feel very privileged to live on such a beautiful Island.
18. If your office was on fire and you could save only one item, what would it be?
My iPad, in all honesty there isn’t that much else to save!
To contact Alex, call 01624 692 758 or email Amcnee@boston.co.im.