This month we talk to Yariv Haim, Founder and CEO at Sparrows Capital, a private investment office that manages core liquid asset portfolios.
We were thrilled to interview this forward-thinking entrepreneur about what his work day looks like and how he feels about operating his business in the city of London.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today, Yariv! First, could you tell us how and why you founded Sparrows Capital?
I have been working in the financial sector for 15 years. Unlike many of my peers who have migrated from banking, I started my career on the buy side as an adviser to asset owners. This gives me a useful perspective from which to challenge the many outdated and unhelpful concepts and practices that plague the asset management industry. Having stood in the customer’s shoes, I have first-hand experience of the tension between service providers and their clients. When I created Sparrows Capital I vowed to close this gap.
What do you most enjoy about your job, and what do you expect from your work day?
Foremost for me is the company’s ethos and culture.
I previously worked for a large international conglomerate, and I learned a lot from the experience. Working for such a firm has its advantages, not least the many career paths it can offer employees, but I did not believe in the product we were selling, and that was a major issue for me.
At Sparrows Capital, I am driven by a deeply held belief that we deliver excellent value to our clients whilst attempting to reshape the landscape by spearheading positive disruption within the industry.
I enjoy working for an entrepreneurial, vibrant and fresh-thinking company. I like challenging norms to develop better, fairer and more efficient ways of doing business.
I am not suited to bureaucratic roles or to maintaining the status quo. Luckily, my work at Sparrows Capital is the opposite; every day in investing produces unique and unpredictable challenges.
What is your strategy for getting the right people on your team?
Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, distils five key principles which differentiate good companies from great companies. One of these is to “get the right people on the bus”. But the right people are always in great demand. I believe that the key to attracting them is ensuring they feel they are “sitting on the right bus”.
These are strange times, and many of us have not seen our colleagues for months. Despite huge strides in communication technology, working from home takes a toll on a team’s morale and camaraderie. I am very much looking forward to offering my colleagues a sense of a “shared bus” once again.
Who do you report to?
As CEO of Sparrows Capital, I report to many stakeholders. From a governance standpoint, the board of directors; from a regulatory perspective, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA); but above all I serve the interests of the company’s shareholders and the interests of our clients. It is a tough balancing act, but one that must be done correctly for the company to stand out from the crowd.
It does sound tough, but this kind of work must also make you feel so fulfilled.
Very much so. None of us can predict what life will present to us, and we will all experience high and low moments. It is important to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. I always wake with a sense of excitement for the day ahead, imagining how it will play its part in achieving our mission.
Having a shared vision and agreed values is a crucial element in defining a common culture. Values can be quite vague sometimes, and I propose thinking of them in the following way: values are defined not by what you do when anyone is watching but by what you do when no one is watching.
We can empathise with that. A company’s values should always be well thought through, heartfelt and honest. What other challenges would you say you face as an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur is a wonderful experience, but it does require a thick skin and a healthy dose of stubbornness. It is never easy to introduce something new to a marketplace, and every innovator should expect to face a mixture of criticism and cynicism.
There are always many sensible reasons not to break with the status quo, and any innovator will face most of them over time. My approach is to focus on the ONE good reason for change and use it to help me persevere.
Great advice for budding entrepreneurs.
You founded Sparrows Capital in London. What attracted you to the city?
London is one of the most exciting cities in the world to work in. It is a global financial hub, comparable only with New York.
I love London for its diversity. It is liberal, open and welcoming, and working with people from all over the globe is embedded in its DNA. Everyone feels comfortable seeking financial services in London.
Equally important from a business standpoint, London is a place where the rule of law is observed and respected at all levels. All businesses enjoy a level playing field. This makes London, in my view, an ideal bedrock for entrepreneurs and innovators.