GlenQ explores taking trust business to the Nigerian market
For centuries, merchants, traders and dealers have set forth from the small island of Jersey to do business with the world.
Small island…big ambitions. From wool to sheep, fish to ships, cows to potatoes, tea to tomatoes, Jersey’s export industries have risen and declined like the mighty tides surrounding this charming British Channel Island. And benefited islanders along with individuals, communities and countries on the other side of the trading relationship.
From where does this ambition and success arise? Well perhaps inventiveness, teamwork and determination are found within the character of many island communities. Yet when it comes to Jersey and worldwide trade, perhaps deep within the DNA is a more apt explanation.
Jersey’s latest – and arguably greatest – export is its financial services.
Since the island’s government first recognised the offshore opportunity in the late 1960s, Jersey’s Finance Industry has been a mainstay of the local economy. Among specialist services presently powering growth are trusts, structured finance products widely used by wealthy individuals to make provision for their families and future generations. Among specialist finance companies setting forth to bring the benefits offered by trusts to the outside world is GlenQ.
‘Having successfully established ourselves in Jersey, like many local companies in the past we decided the best route to expansion led off island and overseas,’ elaborates Paul Glennon, Principal at GlenQ alongside partner Iain Quenault. ‘And while there were perhaps more obvious markets close at hand, such as the UK and Europe, like many before, we decided on a more adventurous, more distant option. Besides, I had long held an ambition to do business in Nigeria one day.’
That ambition had arisen while among a group of good Nigerian friends Paul made when at university in the UK. At the time, he confesses, it seemed a very far-fetched prospect. A never-to-be-fulfilled commitment…until 2014. In that year, Paul found himself on a plane flying into Lagos International Airport, gateway to the sprawling, colourful Nigerian capital, home to 16 million people and fastest growing city in Africa.
‘OK, so it’s not quite comparable to those historic traders who left Jersey in tiny boats to sell goods around the world,’ confesses Paul, ‘but I genuinely felt a lot of trepidation about going alone into Africa, to do business in a country I didn’t know, in a city with a formidable reputation and with potential clients from a different cultural background than me. Fortunately, I could call upon the support of Jersey Finance, the island’s industry representatives, which had already raised awareness of Jersey and its services among those potential clients. And had the reassuring personal connections from university – who would know that I was at least fulfilling my ambition!’
Despite trepidations, what Paul found in Lagos was a modern, vibrant environment, a dynamic, entrepreneurial business community, and a welcoming, receptive potential client base. And what those potential clients found in Paul and GlenQ was an independent, responsive, progressive and adaptable outlook and approach to business, strengths that larger financial organisations often struggle to provide.
‘It’s interesting that much of Jersey’s historic trading success came through small local businesses, possessing the drive, offering the personal touch and able to make quick, but well thought-through decisions. That first experience in Nigeria demonstrated how well-placed smaller independent trust companies such as GlenQ are to meet the needs of diverse clients in fast-moving, rapid growth locations. Whatever their requirements – estate planning or asset protection for example – going into Africa means we can offer a personal face-to-face service backed by a fully functioning and regulated offshore structure back home.’
So out of Jersey and into Africa. Small company…big ambitions. And solid success as GlenQ’s client base in Nigeria has steadily increased over the last six years.
Now. Where next?