Daniel Dickinson does not have particularly fond memories of his early days working in finance. “I mean, it was tough, very tough,” he admits.
“Back then, you were attracted to the industry because you could build a great career, but after you were given the tools to do it, it was either sink or swim. There wasn’t a great deal of assistance. It was quite a selfish industry.”
The CEO’s fellow executives at AHR Private Wealth, which is based in Dubai and looks after about €1 billion in assets, had similar experiences while working their way up through the ranks at various financial firms.
“We all joined the industry right at the bottom – as associates, as assistants, as business development managers,” Daniel says. Because of those early lessons, the company’s leaders have worked to foster a more supportive culture.
“I directly attribute the way that AHR has built its culture to the things that we learned at other businesses that maybe made all of us feel a bit uncomfortable,” he explains. “We’ve worked really hard to develop an environment where it’s about everybody succeeding and everybody wanting to come to work and be part of a successful team.”
That sense of camaraderie goes back to the company’s creation through a merger last year between two firms called Arlo Wealth and Harrison Rowe. “The leadership team of Arlo and the directors at Harrison Rowe worked very closely over a two-year period and as that period came to an end, to our huge credit I think, everybody sat around the table with a very open mind,” Daniel reveals.
“We realised that we could build something far more effective as a collective than we could building two smaller competing businesses.
“Both leadership teams sat down and came to an agreement on a structure and a deal and we, independently of one another, wrote down what we wanted to achieve, and there was a lot of synergy. So all that really did was reinforce the idea that doing it separately made no sense. I think we’ve been very much vindicated in our decision.”
AHR specialises in offering financial and tax advice to wealthier expats, and its 155 staff operate in multiple countries, including Malaysia, Mauritius and the UK, serving about 3,000 clients. “We’re growing at quite a pace as well,” Daniel confirms. The leadership team is far younger than those of its competitors.
“Nobody is north of 40, which really does make us quite young when you look at our peer group,” he says. The team also has a broad range of experiences, having worked in Hong Kong, South America and the Middle East.
“We have quite a lot of dynamism and ambition.” Perhaps because of that dynamism, AHR is moving faster than its competitors towards digitising transactions. “At the moment, a lot of our transactions are still done with a wet signature on a piece of paper that’s scanned over to a team,” Daniel notes.
“We’re trying to take a policy step towards the digitalisation of that process, which will increase efficiency and is also a better outcome for the clients.”
The company attracts about €5 million a week from new clients leaving other advisory firms, with the new arrivals citing the strength of AHR’s brand among the key reasons they chose to switch. “Our communications externally are really quite good,” Daniel points out.
“We produce a lot of guides, a lot of assistance.” Looking to the future, the CEO hopes AHR will soon be able to offer a share scheme to its employees as a reward for their hard work and to help retain them.
“There are 155 people all pulling in the same direction, every single day of the week,” he confirms. Daniel’s ultimate goal is to take the company public.
“If we were to achieve everything we wanted to achieve, it would be to list the business and to create an environment where people can buy shares and enjoy the benefits of our success alongside us.”