Thursday, January 20, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Winterbotham Trust Company Ltd founder Geoffrey Hooper established the financial services firm in 1990, after spending many years in banking in Spain and Latin America. It was while working in Uruguay for Lloyd’s Bank that the banker saw an opportunity to branch out on his own, initially targeting two niche markets: back office accounting and basic banking services.
“My father has been in banking all his life,” says his son and senior vice president of the company, Ivan Hooper. “He decided to take the risk and set up his own business, and he went for the markets and the products that he knew. It was him and an accountant [at the start] and they are both still in the company today.”
The elder Hooper chose to name the company after his pioneering ancestry, the Winterbothams of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, who were well respected locally for their participation in public life, as well arts, religion, engineering and finances.
The new banking business was headquartered in Uruguay, in a market the founder knew well. Having built up a client-base there, serving Latin America, he decided to move the hub of the operations to The Bahamas when the company was granted its banking licence in 1994, whilst still retaining an office in South America.
The move has proved profitable, with the company growing to become the largest fund administrator in The Bahamas, in terms of the number of funds it manages.
“We believe The Bahamas is doing the right thing regarding its financial legislation. In the last few years it has brought in SMART Funds and new foundation law–that helps, because it provides more tools for a company like us,” says the firm’s VP.
To mark 20 years in business, the bank flew its Nassau employees to Uruguay, so the whole company could enjoy the celebrations together.
“We celebrated in style; everybody had a great time,” enthuses Ivan. “We try to get the two offices together every few years, so that employees can see each other face to face, but some people had never been to Uruguay before. Some had never even been on a plane.”
The trip also gave employees a chance to meet with clients in the local market and explain more about the company’s Nassau operations and its full range of services.
“It was important for a variety of reasons. Not only to get close to our clients, but to let them know the extent of our business. We were not a known presence [in Uruguay] until about four years ago. They knew us as a local trust company. For those people in particular, it was important to let them know what else we did.”
Following its success in markets this side of the world, the company opened a new office in Hong Kong earlier this year. The branch now has five employees and operates as a local trust company, offering many of the same services as the Nassau headquarters does.
“We have good coverage of the Latin American market, but never really had that in Asia. This new office builds that,” says the vice president.
The expansion into Hong Kong reflects Winterbotham’s overall business strategy: to build close relationships with clients and deliver services from a local hub where ever possible.
“We try to deliver [our services] in the client’s time zone and in the client’s language,” explains Ivan. “We are executing and delivering in a timely manner, listening to our clients and providing a solution and administering that solution.”