We continue our series getting to know the constituents of 2021 PAM 50 Most Influential, an annual list of those at the forefront of shaping private client wealth management in the UK and Crown Dependencies.
Today we hear from Stuart Cummins, the chief executive of Nedbank Private Wealth.
Mr Cummins joined Nedbank Private Wealth (Nedbank PW) in March 2018. His background incorporates senior roles with Cazenove Capital, C Hoare & Co and Barclays Wealth.
During 2020 Nedbank PW made several key hires, including the strengthening of its compliance function. The firm was again listed in The Sunday Times's Best 100 Companies to Work For (the only private bank to make the ranking).
Mr Cummins’ leadership style is characterised by long-term thinking, and he says all his decisions are made with a five to ten-year time horizon in mind.
In addition to his strong leadership of Nedbank PW, Mr Cummins is a member of the UK Finance Private Strategic Advisory Committee. This is made up of around ten private banking chief executives, who are consulted by the primary UK Finance Board on government policy, regulatory change, financial crime, and industry development.
What team or personal achievement over the past year are you most proud of?
The past year has tested everyone, in all industries and in all parts of the world. I have been blown away by the power of teams coming together to solve problems quickly in order to demonstrate resilience through the pandemic, whilst supporting clients and delivering on our promises during extraordinary times.
It is not one thing though. It’s the sheer volume of examples of team members supporting each other, demonstrating creativity and innovation, usually against a backdrop of significant personal uncertainty and strain.
I am sure that most leaders would reflect the same level of pride as I have for my team at Nedbank Private Wealth.
What most excites or interests you about the wealth management industry right now?
Wealth management is so diverse, it is not an industry which is totally dominated by a small number of large participants and as a result, it remains an open field.
The power of the human relationship remains critical, but innovative use of technology, data and design thinking offer fresh ways to truly engage clients.
Wealth management is not about investments or performance, it is about asking really powerful questions, which make clients think differently about what is important to them and their families which leads them to make better choices. There is a clear opportunity for us to reinvent what we do, to be intellectually curious and design a new approach, which really connects with clients who do not currently engage with the industry. This is what excites me!
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
I would encourage myself earlier in my career to develop a clearer understanding of the way that the human brain works and how you can manage your own internal self-dialogue, to increase performance, personal enjoyment, focus, discipline and gratitude.
Being conscious about your feelings (and insecurities) and being mindful about how you manage them is important. Books such as The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters for yourself, or The Inner Game of Work by Timothy Gallwey, if you manage teams are both helpful.
What do you find most rewarding about your role?
Fundamentally, my role is to build great teams and create an environment which gets the best out of those teams. As CEO, I have a position which can set the tone, remove barriers, allocate resources and provide encouragement and support so that we can collectively achieve our ambitions.
My greatest pleasure comes from seeing the teams achieve great things. We are the only private bank listed in The Sunday Times Best 100 Companies to Work For and this gives a sense of the importance we place on listening to and engaging the entire team.
What luxury item would you want with you on a desert island?
Assuming that I had access to power, it would be my iPad, although that sounds like a first world answer. The right answer is probably a multipurpose knife, a drinking water filter or a helicopter!
What’s a valued hobby or interest outside work and how did you get into it?
I enjoy riding motorcycles, both on and off-road. I have spent time riding off-road across Morocco, in the sand dunes of the Sahara. At some point I would like to have a long motorcycle adventure across Africa, or something similar.
I started riding motorcycles when I lived on the Isle of Man, the home of the TT races. Lockdown has also given me a new appreciation for my garden, but I am not old enough to admit that gardening is a hobby.
Was there a particular guilty pleasure which helped you through lockdown?
I have used my Peloton spin bike pretty much every day through lockdown. This bike allowed me to start each day with exercise and lockdown has enabled me to maintain a rhythm of exercise which can be difficult to maintain when commuting and travelling to different offices. So it’s not really a guilty pleasure, but certainly it’s made a big difference for me.
Do you have a pet? What’s (s)he like?
Yes, we have two dogs, Jet & Leah. They are soft coated wheaten terriers. Lovely dogs, but they have a tendency to bark and attack the door when delivery drivers come to the house (I blame the owners!).
Being a regular user of Amazon, they became a feature of Team/Zoom calls during lockdown. So much so, I ended up getting artificial intelligence based noise filtering software on my iMac. It’s called ‘Krisp’ and it works like a dream!