David Bunker, Assistant MD of our Print business, recently celebrated 25 years with the business, although his involvement is over three decades. He has been witness to how our company has grown and changed, including everything from acquisitions to market corrections and the whole gamut of economic cycles…
Find out more about his experiences in this extended Q&A.
How did it all start for you?
It all started at 35 Great St Helens (now Great St Helens Hotel) in the Square Mile, just up the road from our Crown Place Head office, 32 years ago.
Having no idea what to do at the age of 15 I managed to find a week’s work experience in a firm called Close Brothers Investment Management (CBIM) Limited. I turned up to a smart office with the smell of fresh coffee and people looking very important, 80’s glamorous and very busy!
I was given an office of one of the Investment Executives who was on holiday and told that I would be gainfully employed! I got on with the job in hand and started licking what seemed like a million envelopes, running cheques to clearing banks for amounts I could only dream of, visiting Companies House to copy sets of accounts for possible investment opportunities and….oh yes helping caterers serve at a client dinner where I managed to break the cork of one of only 2 bottles of wine for 12 people!
What was it like?
During this running around and jobbing for the CBIM team, what struck me was their genuine passion for sharing their thoughts and views with this school kid. The Close Brothers team individually took time to explain what they did and how they got there. They all seemed to find time in their busy diaries to take me to AGMs or to join in meetings.
This is where they seemed so enthusiastic about what they did and the client’s needs. It hit me then that if I wanted to end up working in job where not only could I have a big chair to swivel around in but be part of something dynamic where people really valued each other and were intensely excited about their job and their customers then I ought to get cracking on with joining Close Brothers!
How did you do this?
With an Economics and Business degree under my belt, I was invited to send a speculative CV into a new division called Close Asset Finance. I was interviewed by the incredible Roger Stone (pictured with David) who got me straight to work being CAF’s (as it was then known) first trainee and sales-coordinator (employee number 18). I was made to feel immediately welcome and had my first month’s budget to hit….which I did!
Since then the years have been full of shared success and challenges with recessions, booms and a very big crash not to mention a back breaking time as an MBA student and what felt like being a regular feature of Frankfurt airport!
What have you learned?
Throughout all I’ve learnt that tenacity and hard work can help you get through anything. My father motto is ‘don’t give up!’, which I still hold as dear to me today as I did when walking through the door of Close Brothers Asset Finance in 1993. I’ve also learned from a number of MDs that if you gain the trust and respect of your colleagues then anything is achievable and this is one of the best bits of advice I would share with anyone willing to listen.
Our business in Sidcup is a shining example of this where we respect and value everyone and truly believe in doing the right thing…!
Our customers genuinely appreciate our core values, which is reflected in the service we provide. We have had so many shared experiences with customers that the Close Brothers brand has transcended the ‘bank’ label.
I’m genuinely proud to say I still work with customers that I’ve had since 1993 - what I’ve learned is that if you truly care for the customer’s business, show empathy and a willingness to evolve with the market, the rest will take care of itself.
What quote sums up your time at Close Brothers Asset Finance?
Reflecting back and to paraphrase the words of Philip Argur in The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism, ‘If Close Brothers is to flourish then it must remember not to get too big to be small’.
I started my journey with Close Brothers at the time of the Big Bang where most of the great names of the City – Warburg, Barings and Morgan Grenfell were being swallowed up by the giants and now some 25 years on from being employed by Close Brothers I truly believe the people and teams in Close are still passionate about helping customers by delivering exceptional service!
Culture is something that’s so important to get right in business and I’m proud of our culture of service with integrity. We’re a great business and I hope that we as a team and a Bank we remember not to be too big to be small!