Purpose has given us something to pull together over the last difficult yearPublished on 18 Feb 2021
For her family, scions of C. Hoare & Co, the UK’s oldest privately owned bank, their purpose, above all, is to perpetuate a profitable family business, according to Venetia Hoare. “As a business, we do that by being good bankers and good citizens”, she told guests at a webinar about the changing dynamics of family leadership, hosted by Stonehage Fleming this week.
Venetia joined the family business in 1991 and was appointed Hoare & Co’s first female Partner in 1996, responsible for banking and treasury. “Purpose is coming to the fore for all businesses and – over the last couple of years – we have done a lot of work to define one for ours. It has given us something to pull the bank together over the last difficult year during the covid crisis. Today, we use it in everything we do”, she said.
The practical experience of running the business helped to define that purpose, explained Venetia. “A few years ago, we sold our wealth management business. We realised that part of what appealed to our customers is that we ‘keep things simple’ – it is something of an unofficial mantra”. Although they had not yet articulated an official purpose, the partners felt the business model was getting over-complicated, said Venetia. “We felt we weren’t able to do our jobs as well as we wanted to.”
Keeping the business model simple and focused on banking has been key to defining a purpose for Hoares, explained Venetia. “We have a fantastic brand which gives us the impetus to grow the business, but we could also quickly lose what makes the bank special.”
Ultimately, communicating that special purpose is down to leadership. One of the main roles for a partner is to lay the foundations for smooth succession, explained Venetia. “Ours is a multiple leadership model. When looking for the next generation of leaders, you have to look at people’s different strengths and areas of interest but a lot of it is about human dynamics and being able to work together. Understanding the family culture is essential.”