Interview with Tom Dudderidge, CEO of Ballinger & Co.
What do you consider your most important responsibility as CEO?
The top priority is leading the team and inspiring our people to do the best work they can. It is my responsibility to create an environment in which people are empowered, happy and healthy, and anyone can achieve their goals and reach their full potential. The last year has shown that leadership is pivotal in creating an inclusive culture where everybody’s voice is heard and employees are motivated to pursue their ambitions.
Ballinger & Co. is a place where you can launch a highly successful career, but also a long-term home for experienced professionals from within the industry. Achieving this is only possible if the objectives and priorities of the business are aligned with the interests and life goals of our people.
How does Ballinger differentiate itself from its peers?
In one word: Quality. The quality of our people, the service we provide, and the clients we serve.
It is a crowded market so we must be careful to only deploy our resources when we can truly add value. We dive deep in researching our prospects, and are highly selective about the industries, jurisdictions and situations that we target.
The strength of our relationships with partners, such as ED&F Man, and our financial backers affords us very deep liquidity and access to sufficient capital to support the credit needs of our clients.
For a relatively small and young business, we are able to offer better terms than many of our very well-established rivals, while providing a more tailored and innovative service.
The pandemic has been a catalyst for change globally. How has Ballinger evolved in this period?
Our team has grown from 5 people to nearly 25 people since the first lockdown in 2020, which coincided with the launch of our business. To say it has been challenging at times would be an understatement.
We’re very lucky to have the partners and the backers that we do, which makes us independent from the whims of capital and debt markets which were in effect closed to new business for much of last year.
This has given us the confidence to be bold in terms of the support that we can offer our clients, and we’ve been very successful at identifying and engaging with prospects who value what we can offer.
Our team have been exceptionally resilient to the challenges of building the business in lockdown and the experience has made us a very close, strong team, ready for the next stages of our development and growth.
What would you say were Ballinger’s biggest achievements during the past year?
Closing our funding round despite the disruption of the pandemic, attracting some of the very best talent in the industry and beating our pre-COVID projections on every metric.
You’ve spoken about how people are the backbone of the business. What is your approach to attracting the best talent?
There is a huge pool of talent in London, but it’s also highly competitive.
Most of our team have been attracted to Ballinger through word-of-mouth – our people are the best recruiters we could possibly have.
We provide outstanding level of service and empower our colleagues, which appeals to best-in-class individuals who share our values.
Most employers will tell you that they are committed to diversity as part of their recruitment process. However, for Ballinger, this is not just a commitment, but a business necessity. We actively seek out staff members who are diverse in a variety of ways, because we know that innovation and excellence cannot come from a room full of people who are all the same.
What do you consider to be most important when supporting corporates and institutions with complex FX needs?
Time is one of the most valuable commodities that our clients possess, so it’s our job to identify their needs without wasting time, which requires detailed research. Once engaged, we can move very quickly to open accounts and put facilities in place.
We simply have to be easier to deal with than our competitors. Ballinger removes friction from every stage of the process by saving our clients’ time; this frees up space to solve the most complex problems, inject fresh ideas, and, most importantly, allows our clients to trade at competitive rates whenever they need.
After such a transformational year, what can we expect to see next?
To be able to physically meet our clients for the first time is a game changer. Our ability to build relationships without face-to-face contact has been a very welcome surprise, but nothing beats meeting in real life! The Ballinger team is hitting the road and we’ll be meeting as many of our clients as possible over the coming months.
Deepening the bond between our people and our clients can only lead to better outcomes for all.
More widely, we’ve been busy building out our banking and liquidity network and evolving our technology stack. As these developments come to fruition, we can provide a wider range of products, increase efficient delivery, and provide a strong platform from which to scale the team, which we expect to double in size in the coming 12 months. These are renaissance times for financial services businesses.
The pedigree of our team and backers, combined with our agility as a start-up in a rapidly changing market, will prove to be a winning combination for our stakeholders and clients.