Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Former Car-Plate Seller Who Is Racing Ahead in Forex

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Former Car-Plate Seller Who Is Racing Ahead in Forex

Article excerpt

Byline: Toby Green GROWTH CAPITAL

THE entrepreneurial career of Jonathan Quin began at an early age. "I started my first business when I was about 16, dealing in car number plates," he says. "I loved it and got a taste for setting up and running it and being able to make some money at school."

That enthusiasm to be his own boss clearly stood him in good stead -- he is now running foreign exchange group World First, which he co-founded and has quickly grown into an industry giant. It's the UK's third-largest currency exchange company, and a running total on its website shows it has carried out more than PS17 billion of transactions since launching in 2004.

For Quin, the path from selling car plates for pocket money to dealing with billions of pounds of foreign transactions involved a detour into the world of big banking -- an experience that strengthened his desire to run his own business: "I set a personal goal of trying to get out of the City by the time I was 30, which I just managed."

Still, if he hadn't joined Citibank, he would not have met Nick Robinson. They started on the same day and as they got to know each other, realised smaller companies did not seem to be getting as good foreign exchange rates as bigger firms got from banks, and decided they could do better themselves.

World First almost started when they were both at Citibank, but to avoid borrowing any money the two decided to stay in the City until they had stashed away enough cash to survive for two years -- Robinson went to Credit Agricole and Quin got a job at RBS. In 2004, they ditched their jobs and started on World First. "It was all very good timing," says Quin. "My wife's parents were moving abroad to work for a couple of years, and they had this house [in Stockwell] they wanted someone to look after. So I sold my flat -- which gave me the money to help start the business -- moved into the house, and then the basement of the house was an office."

Their fundamental aim was to provide a better service than other firms: "We always thought, if you look after customers, they'll come back; if you really look after customers, they'll come back and they'll tell their friends. …

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