Magazine article Management Today

You Live and You Learn: Martin Gilbert, Founder and CEO, Aberdeen Asset Management

Magazine article Management Today

You Live and You Learn: Martin Gilbert, Founder and CEO, Aberdeen Asset Management

Article excerpt

I was born in Malaysia and sent alone to Aberdeen to board at nine.

It taught me resilience, which came in useful later. But my kids went to day school.

In 2002 the Treasury select committee called me a 'sophisticated snake-oil salesman' for my role in the split-caps scandal. I had to lay off hundreds of people. I screwed up and it was my fault.

It was the low point of my career but I'm proud that I didn't give up. I got the business back from the mess I got it into. The board wouldn't give me the time now. I would have been fired.

That experience taught me it's too late to get to know newspaper editors and politicians when the shit hits the fan. You have to forge these relationships early and the investment gets paid back in spades. As a CEO you must always be accessible. Never hide.

Even before 2008 the banks really worried me. I said CDOs would cause terrible trouble and they did.

I know a mistrust of business continues post-Crash. Companies haven't learned from their mistakes. Everyone in financial services brought the system down but we feel it's unfair we're coupled with banks.

One of the unwanted effects of the regulatory pressure since 2008 has been to erect huge barriers to entry in financial services and thus reduce competition. …

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