I recently had the pleasure of spending an afternoon interviewing the staff at the Capital International Group. This is what they had to say…
While Group Chief Executive Anthony Long and Chief Investment Officer David Long may be at the helm of the Capital International Group the enduring sense of ‘family’ resonates throughout the Capital household among its 70-strong workforce.
This close relationship has always underpinned the resilience and success of the business, which this year is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Peter Long, father of Anthony and David, and the Group’s founder, has always said:
“Capital’s strength has always been about the sum of its parts, and how together we become stronger. Those ‘parts’ encompass the staff, its IT infrastrucutre and those who support the business – all that make the Group what it is today.”
Among those within the Group is Debbie Fox, nine years in customer services and most often working from behind the reception desk at Capital House.
“I may be working on my own on reception some of the time but I’ve always felt very much part of not only the customer services team, but also of the Group operation as a whole, because in customer services you’re effectively working for all the other areas of the business.”
“The Capital culture is such that everyone feels part of something bigger and, importantly, everyone feels valued.”
Helen Long has been with the company from the outset 20 years ago and now works in operations.
“Capital is always keen to retain its people; there are a good number here who’ve been with the company for 10 or more years, so there’s a wealth of knowledge that’s been built up. As a company we’ve developed a great deal over the last 20 years and, like any business, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve always drawn on the positive elements and built on that together.”
Taking up the theme, Chief Operations Officer Kirsten Gorry, who joined Capital in 1997, said:
“The reality is that here you’re supported through the good and bad times, so people are always keen to return that support. Capital invests in us and, in turn, we invest ourselves in Capital.”
Gill Porter, a senior manager in investment and customer services, has been with the Group for nearly 17 years.
“In customer services we’re dealing with clients but then we’re also interacting with all our colleagues across the business, so we do feel part of the bigger operation.”
“And while many companies will say they have an ‘open door’ policy, at the Capital International Group that really does mean something. Anthony, David and all the other senior management are very approachable.“
Part of ‘the family environment’ is that no one feels excluded and everyone feels recognised, integral and involved.”
Capital’s corporate social responsibility approach reflects its close connections to its workforce, as Gill explained:
“The charities supported tend to be those which, in one way or another, have touched the lives of one of us.”
“We support each other and then, together, we support the business. At Capital, everyone knows where we’re trying to get to and what we’re aiming for and we’re all working towards that goal.”
Gill’s colleague Olivia Ramsay has been with the company for six years, and recognises that at Capital, ‘innovation, integrity and excellence’ is no mere marketing phrase.
“You definitely don’t feel like you’re just a number. I don’t view my work as just being in customer services, but as being part of one big team – and I really do look forward to coming to work each day.”
“Plus, you know that if you want to take professional exams and progress your career, Capital will encourage and support you all it can.”
Julie-Anne Osland has been with the Group a little under six years is a member of the business development team.
“Capital’s core values – innovation, integrity and excellence – are crucial and really do mean something. I started in the dealing department but then chose to go into business development. Following on from what Gill has said, people do support each other here. For example, the head of business development Antony Kelsey, has been my mentor and pivotal in my training and career development.”
“Here you’re not ‘lost’ in the company. Your opinions and ideas are welcomed and listened to and your contribution valued. This is great for building up your confidence. Everyone – no matter what their role or position – is important to the business. Peter Long has always been very supportive of the people who work here. That’s definitely been passed down to the next generation.”
Antony Kelsey who also joined the Group about six years ago continued:
“The core values, originally instilled by Peter Long, of innovation, integrity and excellence are still relevant 20 years on.”
“They permeate the business and determine how we deal with our people and our clients. By and large at Capital people ‘leave well’ and ‘join well’ and that’s certainly testament to the Long family approach to business; a business which takes pride in and has invested in the Isle of Man and is keen to play its part in the island’s future success.”
“But today’s business environment is very different from that of 20 years ago, and so the challenge is to balance retaining that ‘family DNA’ element with developing the business in today’s far more difficult climate. As we’ve grown as a company there’s also the challenge to ensure people still have a sense of ‘being part of something bigger’; that’s hard to maintain, especially now we have a small team in South Africa. We do, though, make regular visits to our colleagues in the Cape Town office who, in turn, come to the Isle of Man.”
Mr Kelsey added that while the family legacy component set Capital’s fundamental ethical and cultural tone, it should always ‘drive not constrain’ future business growth.
“It’s because of our core values that Capital has become more resilient, flexible and fleet of foot.”
“As the business has expanded there could have been the risk of people feeling isolated from what’s happening in other departments, but that’s not the case, thanks largely to Anthony Long’s practice of gathering everyone together for regular Company updates, which certainly makes people feel more motivated.”
Mr Kelsey said it was not only the business that had grown. “Capital is always keen to give people opportunities to grow, to advance their careers and help them to realise their potential; this adds value to their own and ultimately, the company’s prospects.”
“As Peter Long has said, our people are ‘the building blocks’ of the Capital International Group.”
Written by Stephen Ritch