60 seconds with … Michael Goldstein

This month, Clare Nash, Director at Norman Broadbent Group interviews Michael Goldstein, CEO of City of London Group plc, the parent company of a group of businesses focussed on serving two key segments, the UK SME market and home reversion. Recently they founded Recognise, a new bank designed to serve the needs of SME market.

Of all your experiences and achievements in the industry to date, which are you most proud of and why?

I am really proud of what we’ve done at the City of London Group. Almost three years ago we started with a blank piece of paper, really, and here we are less than three years later, we’ve got Recognise Bank Ltd as an authorised bank, with a great, fully fledged management team and customers who are applying for loans – so for me, that’s definitely my proudest achievement.

What advice would you give yourself if you were starting out again?

I came from the accounting/auditing profession, and I thought I understood Financial Services, but I realised that it is actually a vast industry, with lots of specialism, so I think getting specific experience in particular areas as you go along is the best advice I could give anyone starting out. If there is a specific area you think you might be interested in, go and get the experience before you dive in.

What excites you most about the future of your industry?

I think the regulators have given us an opportunity by allowing new banks to establish themselves. There have been a few new banks over the last couple of years, although I get the sense now that they will soon be making it harder.  The market, while still being vast, is dominated by a relatively low number of major players, which gives others the opportunity to build a business of significance. That’s what excites me.

What is your Golden Rule?

Work with people you can trust. Building relationships with key people around me is very important. I need to work in an environment where I know I can rely on people. I’ve always tried to manage my career where I can have an open and honest relationship with those people who are immediately around me and who I work closest with. That’s always been my golden rule.

What are you currently reading?

I have got two books on the go now – I’m reading one and listening to the other. I’m listening to Barack Obama’s A Promised Land, which is the story of his journey to the White House. It is a fascinating book. I think he’s a very interesting man, and I hope history will show that he was a great leader.

The second book which I’m reading is Anne Boden’s book, Banking on it. It’s obviously quite specific to what we are doing, in a different market segment, at City of London Group, as it is the story of her founding Starling Bank. I like the strap line: “How I Disrupted an Industry.” As a Starling Bank customer, myself, I think it’s a great product, so I was curious to see her journey, too. It’s another great read.

If you would like to discuss the wider market in more detail and /or your hiring plans for 2021, please do not hesitate to contact Clare Nash, Director of Financial Services via clare.nash@normanbroadbent.com or +44(0)7483 015591