Iraj Ispahani profile in FT Wealth

FT Wealth, 5th May 2018

Why a 200-year-old family business is writing its own constitution.

Iraj Ispahani and I meet for the first time, appropriately enough, for afternoon tea at the Royal Automobile Club…

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A Big Idea

Globe Magazine, Winter 2021 Edition

Iraj Ispahani was not expecting to begin a 30-year journey in theatre when he met Sam Wanamaker in 1991, one evening after work. Ispahani is a scion and board member of the 200-year-old Ispahani Group …

Family businesses: between values and generations

Kaiser Partner, 17 October 2019

As director and board member of M.M. Ispahani Ltd, a Bangladeshi-based family business celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2020, Iraj Ispahani knows the opportunities and risks of family businesses and their generational transition from childhood on …

Philanthropy Impact

October 2019

Iraj Ispahani prefers not to use the word philanthropy because he is uncomfortable with its implications of hierarchy. This is not necessarily what you would expect from a man who is on the Group Board of his Bangladesh headquartered family business, had a successful career in financial services, helped build an online communications business and has various high-profile philanthropic achievements …

Standard Chartered charitable foundation established

Standard Chartered, 1 October 2019

Standard Chartered PLC (the Group) has established a foundation to advance charitable purposes.

The Standard Chartered Foundation (UK Charity Number: 1184946) will support programmes for disadvantaged young people from low-income households, particularly girls and people with visual impairments, across the world.  It will fund education, employability, entrepreneurship and eye health programmes through donations to charities and non-governmental organisations.

The Group has chosen the Foundation to be the lead partner in delivering its philanthropic activities, including the Group’s global initiative to tackle inequality, Futuremakers by Standard Chartered. The aim of Futuremakers is to raise US$50 million between 2019 and 2023 (from fundraising and fund-matching by the Group) to empower the next generation to learn, earn and grow.

Ispahani Islamia Eye Hospital opens new OPD for children

Financial Express, 31 October 2018

A new modern Pediatric Outpatients Department of the Ispahani Islamia Eye Institute and Hospital (IIEH) started its journey to facilitate eye treatment for children.

We’ve reached our USD100 million goal to tackle avoidable blindness

Standard Chartered, 26 September 2018

Standard Chartered announced today that it has reached the goal it set in 2011 to raise USD100 million for the fight against avoidable blindness and visual impairment. The goal has been reached two years ahead of the Bank’s 2020 target date.

Political Risk: What Advisors, Clients Need To Know - Part Two

Wealth Briefing, 13 July 2018

This is the second half of a feature delving into how advisors and clients should regard political risk when making decisions.

Political Risk: What Advisors, Clients Need To Know - Part One

Wealth Briefing, 3 July 2018

This is the first half of a feature examining how advisors and clients should think about political risk in decision-making.

Margaret Casely-Hayford appointed as Chair of Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare’s Globe, 6th February 2018

The Board of Shakespeare’s Globe has appointed Margaret Casely-Hayford as its new Chair. Iraj Ispahani, Deputy Chair of Shakespeare’s Globe and leader of the Appointment Panel, said: “Margaret brings to the Globe a distinctive blend of commercial and charitable experience underpinned by a commitment to education and a love of Shakespeare. Her strategic vision, governance experience and commitment to diversity and inclusion will be of great benefit to the entire Globe family. Having seen the Globe evolve over the past 25 years I am confident that Margaret is the right leader for us today and I am delighted that she is joining us.”

$4tn wealth transfer sparks battle for kids of the rich

FT Wealth, 18th November 2018

“One of the concerns many wealth managers are trying to address today is leakage arising from the transition of wealth between generations,” says Iraj Ispahani, chief executive of Ispahani Advisory and a 10th-generation member of the Ispahani group, which began in 1820 as a supplier of tea to the British empire. “The Next Gen does not want their custom taken for granted. They are more disruptive, less concerned about historic family loyalty to a company, are price conscious and will shop around. How advice is made available to them is really important. Online digital delivery is more important than the personal high touch of the traditional wealth manager/private banker their parents are probably used to.”

Iraj Ispahani addresses Family Business Club at Imperial University in London

Imperial College Business School, 17th July 2018

The Family Business Club was delighted to welcome Mr. Iraj Ispahani, Director of a 197-year-old family business, for its final event of the year. It was a highly interactive evening with Iraj speaking about his considerable experience both in banking as well as in his family business.

Brexit: What worries Europe’s richest

Financial Times, 4th May 2016

Yet when the levy was first introduced in 2008-09, suggestions it would lead to an exodus of the rich from UK shores proved largely unfounded. In fact, just under 120,000 non-doms were registered in the UK for the tax year 2013-14 — 1,500 more than the previous year.

Whether they might move even further afield remains a moot point.

“Clearly Singapore is an important centre for wealth in Asia and other jurisdictions have their attractions,” says Iraj Ispahani, chief executive of Ispahani Advisory. “But the UK is not viewed simply as a jurisdiction. Here you have the rule of law, political stability, the quality of the education — and the general quality of life all round that is available. People actually enjoy living and working here, so I think the pull to the UK remains.”

Wycombe Abbey School put on 'inspiring' show at Shakespeare's Globe for Bard's anniversary

Bucks Free Press, 29 March 2016

Wycombe Abbey celebrated its 120th anniversary and 400 years since the death of Shakespeare by staging an evening of performances at Shakespeare’s Globe last week.

Shakespeare’s Globe elects Lord Bichard as Chair and two new Deputies

22nd September 2015

Shakespeare’s Globe elects The Lord Bichard of Nailsworth KCB as Chair of Shakespeare’s Globe. He was previously Deputy Chair. His appointment follows the decision by The Rt. Hon. The Lord Falconer of Thoroton to step down, having completed three years in the role, as he continues his position as Shadow Minister of Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor. He will remain a Trustee of Shakespeare’s Globe.

Two new Deputy Chairs have also been elected: Emma Stenning, Chief Executive of Bristol Old Vic, and Iraj Ispahani, CEO of Ispahani Advisory Ltd, and Board Member of MM Ispahani Ltd, the 195-year old family company, headquartered in Bangladesh. Iraj also serves as a Senior Director at Oliver Wyman & Co and an Advisory Board Member of Seeing is Believing, the reversible blindness collaboration between Standard Chartered Bank and the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

Global and local HR

Financial Times, 4th March 2015

“Big companies that have been operating globally for a while will have standard policies for areas such as mobility of staff, especially where this is seen as a talent draw,” says Iraj Ispahani, a talent management expert at Ispahani Advisory.

Only a small elite at the top executive level may be able to command high salaries and benefits irrespective of where they are working. Most employees will be compensated according to local conditions.

“In a competitive market, companies won’t offer more than they have to and pay will be set according to the prevailing rates. Companies will pay what they need to so as to attract and retain talent in that particular market. But if pensions aren’t usually offered, companies won’t offer them,” says Mr Ispahani.

The terrors of talent show techniques

Financial Times, 21st May 2014

“A mix of methods allows those people who are more reticent – or don’t want to be seen as shouting over someone else who is more dominant – to articulate their own ambitions and say things they wouldn’t say in the group exercises,” he says.

“Group exercises can show creative thinking and collaborative behaviours. Teamwork can be interpreted as people getting on, but it is about people working well together to achieve better results for a client or organisation.”

Group interviews also take forward the idea of open days, allowing companies to interact with a greater number of potential candidates in these days of “impersonal websites with barely any human touch”, Mr Ispahani says.

“We see group interviews as a concept much in use in the US, where there is a more fluid job market on a larger scale, so the efficiency gains that can be realised might be greater.”

Drawing up a low-risk escape plan

Financial Times, 20th January 2014

The notion of escape to a completely new life is highly romanticised, says Iraj Ispahani, a talent management expert at Ispahani Advisory, a business strategy advice firm. “There may be a brief respite but no escape,” he says.

“There are many more ways to self-manage and develop a career than in the past and I would recommend that people are clear about what they want. There is a range of things one can do, from building a crocodile sanctuary and other one-off, gap-year experiences, to making a mid-career transition and becoming a chief financial officer in a start-up.”

He refers to the early 2000s when many professionals left large companies to join start-ups. “Companies were not as flexible and much more prescriptive then. Now, there are more opportunities to pursue a work-life balance,” he says.

Size matters in a banking career

Financial Times, 19th January 2013

Anyone looking to start or develop a career in international banking, needs to consider the difference the size of a bank makes.

The advantages of a large institution might include opportunities for travel, acquiring a broad range of skills or specialisation, rapid promotions, and movement between departments. But smaller banks might offer an even broader range of opportunities for learning and experience and the chance of greater responsibility

Iraj Ispahani says people have to think hard about what they are looking for at a bank.
“If you want to work in investment banking, where the provision of credit is very important to your client, then you are best advised to work in a large bank,” he says.

“If you want to do pure advisory work, then mid-sized advisory houses are for you, because they have less bureaucracy and are for the most motivated and most agile. We’re seeing a lot of talented people leaving the the City to do this.”

Organisations with a large internal network offering opportunities for rotation were good for those people wanting to develop their international banking career, he says.

“Learning opportunities are greater in big companies because there are more people to learn from but you have to make sure your team leader takes an interest in mentoring you.”

The hiring process goes on...and on...

Financial Times, 8th May 2013

The interview process for people changing jobs has lengthened considerably in the past five years. Successful candidates spend an average of seven hours either preparing for, or taking part in, interviews – an increase of 1.5 hours over that period.

The figures come from a poll by Randstad, the recruitment business, that also found almost 7 per cent of the 2,000 people surveyed spent more than 20 hours preparing for and attending interviews that resulted in a job offer.

Iraj Ispahani says: “One has to distinguish between the level of hiring. At executive level, then clearly more stakeholders need to be involved, so companies are right to take time to get the best talent. It’s not just about skills but about fitting into the culture so more time might be needed.

“In terms of identifying a better fit, the use of psychometrics is fairly standard and can help if used appropriately to make better decisions more quickly,” says Mr Ispahani. “But taking time can be good for candidates and can prevent businesses making expensive mistakes.

Due diligence: Questions are vital before making a leap

Financial Times, 25th April 2013

Iraj Ispahani says candidates should also be aware that the missions of organisations can change. He gives the example of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which has widened its operations from central Europe to encompass North Africa and central Asia.

“Due diligence is as important as for any start-up or new financial organisation. People can only execute on things if the funding is in place,” he says. “From the candidate’s perspective, getting something done in these organisations often requires an enterprising streak. If you’ve been a creature of a large bank for too long, you have to think hard about how self-reliant you really are.”

Real reasons to cheer on Bangladesh

The Daily Star, 30th July 2012

Bangladesh looks like the kind of frontier market that gives frontier markets a bad name. In 2010, the Dhaka stock market was one of the best performing in the world…

How To Give It - FT Interview

18th February 2012

Iraj Ispahani supports an eye hospital and says restoring the sight of a child is hugely meaningful.

The hunt for new talent is gathering pace

Financial Times, 6th July 2010

The traditional spring season in UK banking made a flying start this year, with firms on the look out for new talent, pay rising and employees who sat tight during the financial crisis now thinking of moving on.

Many of the banks that cut back during the downturn have to rebuild themselves and hire staff, says Iraj Ispahani.
Sectors such as leveraged finance and investment management, which were quick to cut jobs when stock markets fell, are hiring again as markets recover.

New regulations forcing banks to create new types of jobs is also driving the market. “Functions such as risk and compliance have become much more central in all big banks. That has meant more demand for business leadership and commercial skills in technical areas where they have not been developed before,” says Mr Ispahani.