“Never sacrifice your principles” – Leader Q&A: John Legrand, IQ-EQ

Business, CEO Q&A | Tue 26 May | Author – Business & Finance
Pictured: John Legrand, Managing Director for Ireland & UK, IQ-EQ

John Legrand is Managing Director for Ireland & UK for IQ-EQ, the investor services group that combines global expertise with client service delivery. The company’s aim is to help global investors focus on investing and preserving capital in a sustainable and compliant manner.

What are the main priorities and goals in your role?

As we are a services organisation, my main priorities and goals for IQ-EQ’s UK and Ireland cluster are all focused on our clients and our people. Everything we do as a business centres upon our clients and how best we can meet their needs. Equally, our people are our most important asset and it is vital that they feel empowered and invested so that they may deliver to the best of their abilities. Remaining both a great place to work and a provider of choice for our clients requires continuous focus and excellent execution and we have a number of initiatives ongoing in order to meet these key goals.

What are your biggest challenges as leader of IQ-EQ’s UK and Ireland operations? 

I would say change and transformation. Very much like our clients, we face market, regulatory, technology and human capital challenges all the time – and that’s without a global pandemic. The need to remain competitive while also providing excellent service and being an employer of choice means we must constantly evolve how we operate. At the same time, this is also the greatest opportunity and one that I very much enjoy.

How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

Staff empowerment, transparency, clear communications and decisive leadership – these are what I believe to be the cornerstones of keeping people motivated and inspired in the workplace. Above all, I aim to lead by example and ensure that the leadership team and I operate as role models within the business. A key part of this, I think, is really making an effort to get to know people and letting others get to know you. With lots of great plans to drive forward, I’ve really hit the ground running since joining IQ-EQ in January this year. Crucially, although I’m primarily based in London, I have made sure to spend time in our Dublin, Shannon and Belfast offices too. In total so far, before lockdown kicked in, I had already visited nine of our offices worldwide and had over 200 one-to-one meetings. Now, it’s all about video conferencing; just recently the leadership team and I held a virtual ‘town hall’ for all UK and Ireland staff where we provided a detailed business update and gave everyone the opportunity to ask questions via the webinar platform.

What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

Beyond any COVID-19 related disruption, within the corporate and investor services spheres, we expect to see further consolidation of service providers, increasing regulation and compliance requirements, greater technological abilities, and an insatiable appetite for data analytics. The ability for firms such as ours to address and meet these challenges head on – without allowing quality of service to suffer – will be vital to remaining relevant within a highly competitive global environment.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?

There is a strong desire to do more with data. For example, clients increasingly want to be able to deconstruct investment data down to its lowest level so as to better understand risk and performance and make more informed decisions. Aside from the ability to deliver this level of detailed reporting and analysis, the speed at which a provider can offer up the information will also be important.

As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market? 

I believe that there is a shortage of data analysts. Our industry needs more individuals who are able to think outside of the ‘norm’ to come up with new ways to use data to tell a meaningful story rather than just report the raw statistics. A real data mechanic who can offer up the analysis in a way that is actionable right away without the need to debate and review it over and over before coming to a conclusion. This is a valuable ‘add on’ service for firms like ours and there is a real lack of people with this skill set.

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed? 

I would define success as being able to comfortably share your experiences in an environment that welcomes change and new ideas. For me, success is all about leaving something positive behind after you have gone. I am driven by the need to mentor, coach, and offer up a new way of doing something that has not been done before. It’s for these reasons that I often seek out firms looking for a person who thrives under the challenge of transformation.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business? 

Never sacrifice your principles.

What have been your highlights in business over the past several years?

I’ve been fortunate to work and live abroad for many years. Therefore, a key business highlight for me has been the opportunity to work with so many talented people from so many diverse backgrounds. This experience of cultural diversity has allowed me to build successful businesses because I was willing to learn from so many different people. It forces you to be sensitive and understanding of alternate viewpoints that may not only come from career experiences, but also from life and culture itself. In my view, this is the most powerful experience one could ever hope to have.

What’s next for your company? 

Among our top priorities for 2020 are technology enablement and process improvement, ensuring we can fulfil increasingly sophisticated reporting demands while making life easier for our people. We also have exciting plans for continued growth and service expansion within the region that will see us build upon and broaden our current strengths, opening up lots of new opportunities.

Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year? 

IQ-EQ was borne from the consolidation of multiple leading service providers and has recently turned one year old, as a brand and global group. It is going from strength to strength and I hope this will still be the case in year two, albeit on an even greater scale. In terms of Ireland specifically, we have a strong corporate services practice in the Republic of Ireland while our team in Northern Ireland specialises in fund administration. I hope by this time next year our jurisdictional offerings will be significantly enhanced and am excited to see our planned developments unfold… Watch this space!